ING given more time to repay aid
Dutch banking and insurance group ING has won more time from regulators to shed assets and repay government aid, avoiding a fire sale but keeping it under state supervision for longer and delaying dividend payments.
The European Union's competition watchdog agreed today that ING, which received €10 billion of state aid in the 2008 financial crisis, would have until 2015 to repay the remaining €3 billion, plus a 50-per cent premium.
It also gave the Dutch bank until 2018 to sell or list its insurance and investment management operations, though parts of these assets must be sold earlier. The regulator had originally ruled ING should divest the businesses and repay state funds by the end of 2013 as a condition of approving the aid.
Banks across Europe are selling assets and cutting costs in a bid to recover from the financial crisis and meet tougher new regulations.
But many are struggling to strike deals amid a faltering global economy and unsettled financial markets.
Last month Royal Bank of Scotland, also under pressure from European regulators to sell assets, saw a deal to sell 316 UK branches to Spain's Santander collapse.
"This is moderately positive in the sense that they don't have to sell in a weak market," said Tom Muller, an analyst at private bank Theodoor Gilissen, of the extra time won by ING.
"On the other hand it is a bit negative because they won't be paying dividends in the near future due to the state aid repayments," he added.
ING shares were up 2.3 per cent at €6.656.