ING profits out of Hamers’ way

Dominic O’Neill
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ING’s chief executive walks and talks digital. Today he leads a stronger, freer institution – one that is using pure online banking to grab customers from incumbents. While the bank grows as a force in lending to industry around the world, it is also building up an SME and consumer-lending portfolio in some of Europe’s biggest retail markets


Ralph Hamers


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Reports last month that ING was bidding for HSBC’s Turkish unit was the latest sign that it is, once again, a bank on the rise. The news came barely a month after the group sold down its stake in its former European insurance arm, NN, to below 50%. Prior to that sale, ING was banned from making any acquisitions at all – a condition imposed by the EU’s anti-trust regulator on a €10 billion bail-out by the Dutch state in 2008.

As the switch to a focus purely on banking continues, the dark days of 2008 seem to be dropping out of view. Since NN Group’s IPO just over a year ago, ING has repaid the last instalment of its bailout money. It has given shareholders its first dividend since the crisis. And it has completed a series of divestments...