ING cuts target, no dividend until aid repaid

Fri Jan 13, 2012 5:21am EST
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AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - Dutch financial services group ING ING.AS cut a target for its bank unit and said another would take longer to achieve than expected due to bank taxes and higher capital requirements, which could also delay the repayment of remaining state aid it owes.

ING, which received 10 billion euros of Dutch state aid in the 2008 crisis, said it would not resume dividends until the remaining 3 billion was paid back and capital rules met.

The group is splitting its bank and insurance operations, a condition of European Commission approval of the state aid, and wants to raise the profile of its banking unit with investors as a separate entity.

At an investor day presentation on Friday ING lowered its return on equity ratio target and pushed back the deadline to reach a lower cost-income ratio, partly due to Basel III capital and liquidity requirements, which are stricter than previous rules.

"We know Basel III is increasing requirements on capital and funding, all of which are putting pressure on margins," ING Chief Executive Jan Hommen said at the event in Amsterdam, which was broadcast live on ING's website.

Hommen also said a new Dutch deposit guarantee scheme would cost 230 million euros annually, and he estimated spending 120 million euros annually for pending bank taxes in the Netherlands and Belgium.

ING said it aimed to partly or fully repay 3 billion euros of remaining state aid plus a 50 percent penalty this year but warned full repayment may take longer.

"Ideally we would like to complete the state repayment this year, however given the ongoing crisis in the euro zone and increasing regulatory capital requirements, we need to take a cautious approach and maintain strong capital ratios in the Bank as we build towards Basel III," ING said.

In May last year, ING said it aimed to repay the state by May this year but Hommen said in November the final settlement could be postponed because of market uncertainty and new capital requirements.   Continued...