ING Announces Restructuring Steps
Friday, June 10, 2011 12:00 PM

Dutch financial-services giant ING Groep NV is putting its U.S. online banking operation up for sale.

Jan Hommen, ING CEO, told the audience at the Goldman Sachs European Financial Conference that the company wanted to divest itself of ING Direct USA, and an ING spokesperson later confirmed the move.

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that both Capital One Financial Corp. and General Electric Co. have made made bids for the U.S. business unit. ING Direct USA is an online banking service with some 7.7 million U.S. customers.

The company also is reportedly mulling initial public offerings for both its U.S. and European insurance operations. ING also is considering options for its Latin American insurance business.

The confirmed and suspected moves come after European Commission regulators told ING to cuts its balance sheet substantially in order to receive state support. Like some American financial services companies, ING was hurt by the economic downturn and resultant credit crunch, and turned to its federal government for help. The Dutch government put euro 10 billion into the company and shortly afterward took on most of the risks associated with and ING mortgage portfolio.

One of the conditions imposed by EC regulators was the sale of ING's U.S. banking operation.