ING preparing insurance sale

ING is ready to embark on two initial public offerings (IPO) of its insurance business, it announced at its full-year results yesterday.

The sale, mandated by the Dutch government after a €10bn (£8.4bn) bailout during the crisis, will take place in 2012, the bank said.

The sell-off of its insurance arm will cut ING’s size by almost a third, with the division accounting for €20bn of its €66bn equity.

Results at the insurance business worsened from a loss of €202m last year to a loss of €519m in 2010. But profits were sharply up at the group’s bank, from €1.36bn in 2009 to €5.86bn last year.

Chief executive Jan Hommen said: “The operational separation of the bank and insurer was completed at year-end”, paving the way for a sale.

Despite the bank’s improved results, however, its property loans still pose a problem. Overall, non-performing loans worsened 2.2 per cent, with the lion’s share of the decline in real estate financing.

ING said it was making efforts to cut its property exposure, reducing investment in real estate developments by €500m between the fourth quarters of 2009 and 2010. Its core tier one capital ratio improved from 7.8 per cent to 9.6 per cent under Basel II.