ING to speed up reorganisation two years ahead of plan date

ING Groep NV, the biggest Dutch financial-services company, is set to complete its reorganisation two years earlier than planned after having won regulators' permission to combine its Japanese insurance unit with European operations in a 2014 initial public offering.

Under the agreement with the European Commission, ING will accelerate the sale of all of its European insurance and investment management activities by two years to the end of 2016, the Amsterdam-based company said today.

The deadline for the sale of over half of ING Life Japan was extended by two years to the end of 2015 after the company found no takers for its offer.

Since he took over in October, chief executive officer Ralph Hamers, 47, has cut the company's stake in its US insurance unit to about 57 per cent, reaching  a deal with the Netherlands on how the nation would sell US mortgage bonds it took over in a 2009 bailout.

The company today reported third-quarter profit that undershot analysts' estimates

''ING continued to make strong progress on its restructuring program in the third quarter, advancing further into the end phase of our transformation,'' Hamers said in the statement.

Shares of the company were down 3.9 per cent to €9.28 in Amsterdam trading yesterday, for a market value of €35.6 billion. The stock had meanwhile gained 39 per cent this year.

Underlying net profit for the third-quarter of 2013 stood at €891 million as against €844 million for the same period last year, the company said today.

According to CFO Patrick Flynn, the results were "solid" and highlighted that the bank had made good progress since the financial crash of 2008 and its restructuring program was on track.

ING reached an agreement with the Dutch government back in 2008 in a bid to strengthen its capital. It received €10 billion by way of capital injection and at the same time the lender drew up a restructuring plan to gain approval for the aid from the European authorities.

The bank announced that it was advancing further into the "end phase" of this programme today, which it now believed would be completed by 2016 - two years ahead of projections.

According to ING, a €1.125-billion euro payment to the Dutch state was completed today, as also reaching an agreement on the unwinding of a bad asset back-up facility. It added, the principal amount of outstanding state aid now stood at €1.5 billion.