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Thu, Feb 19, 2009 - Page 10 News List

ING posts US$4.7 billion loss in the fourth quarter

EARNINGS EROSION The Dutch finance group said although it had reduced its risk exposure, rapid global economic changes still affected its bottom line

AFP , THE HAGUE

Dutch bank and insurance group ING yesterday reported a 3.7 billion euro (US$4.7 billion) fourth-quarter net loss just months after receiving 10 billion euros from the state to help weather the global economic crisis.

This compares with a net profit of 2.5 billion euros posted in the same quarter of 2007, the company said in a statement.

‘UNPRECEDENTED’

“The financial crisis has had an unprecedented impact on our industry and the magnitude of the crisis has left few companies untouched,” board chairman Jan Hommen said in a statement.

“ING had started the year focused on growth, and we were overtaken by the pace and severity of the downturn in the fourth quarter that eroded our earnings and our equity,” Hommen said.

The figure was slightly better than a net loss of 3.9 billion euros predicted by analysts polled by Dow Jones financial news wire.

It represented a net loss per share of 1.82 euros compared with a net profit per share of 1.18 euros in the fourth quarter of 2007.

For the year as a whole, ING reported a loss of 729 million euros, compared with a profit of 9.2 billion euros in 2007.

“The fourth quarter of 2008 marked the worst quarter for equity and credit markets in over half a century,” a company statement said.

CHANGES

“Although ING actively reduced risk exposures across the Group throughout the quarter, the rapid and profound changes in the economic climate impacted results,” the company said.

ING is one of the world’s top 20 banks by market capitalization with 85 million clients and about 130,000 employees.

In October, it received a 10 billion euro cash injection from the Dutch state, but announced last month, it would shed 7,000 jobs globally this year as part of a plan to generate savings of 1 billion euros this year and 1.1 billion euros annually thereafter.

Among other savings, the sale of ING Life Taiwan should free up 5.7 billion euros in capital, and the sale of a 70 percent stake in ING Canada should yield another 1.4 billion euros.

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