What is ING Group

ING Group (Internationale Nederlanden Groep) is a financial services company that provides savings, banking, investments, life insurance, and retirement services to people and companies in over 50 countries. It is a Dutch company with headquarters in the ING House in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. However, it has subsidiaries in nearby Great Britain and in 50 countries and employs over 130,000 people.
The business model that ING uses focuses on accumulating retail savings and pensions, and then investing them in well-diversified assets that have been selected after careful risk management assessments. For its retail customers, the goal is to see that ING’s banking, investments, life insurance, and retirement services grow capital while minimizing risk. The mission of ING is to be the standard-setting leader in helping customers to manage their financial futures. Consequently, the strategy of ING is to create value (or wealth) for its customers at a higher rate of return on investments than its competitors over the long term and not just in short-term profits.
ING was created by the 1991 merger of Nationale-Nederlanden and NMB Postbank Group. Both Nationale-Nederlanden and NMB Postbank Group had a long corporate lineage stretching back before the 1800s to the Kooger Doodenbos business begun in Koog, Noord Holland, which was founded in 1743. The group has been involved in business activities such as fire insurance and providing financial security for widows, orphans, and those impoverishment by illness.
The religio-social divisions of Dutch society have played a part in the development of the predecessors of ING, lasting into the formation of ING itself. Catholics, Socialist/Liberals, and Protestants have historically formed subcultures in Dutch society, with separate banks and insurance companies being a consequence. ING inherited these divisions but has sought to overcome them in its subordinate units.
In the early 1990s, regulatory reforms in the Netherlands removed legal restrictions on mergers between insurance companies and banks. Since 1991, ING has become a multinational corporation with a very wide range of international activities. It is no longer simply a Dutch company with an international business.
Since the mid-1990s, ING has engaged in a series of buyouts. Some were acquisitions that sought to increase profits by reselling parts of the buyout after some restructuring. Other acquisitions were intended to increase the size of ING or its presence in a new market. The 1995 acquisition of Barings Bank followed its financial collapse due to the unauthorized speculative trading of Nick Leeson, a trader in Barings s Singapore office who lost $1.4 billion, rendering Barings insolvent. The purchase made ING globally recognized. Some Barings units were integrated into ING; others were closed or were sold.
An important company owned by ING that was sold was Life of Georgia, an insurance company based in Atlanta. It has since been purchased by the Jefferson National Life Insurance Company.
An acquisition that increased the strength of ING’s presence in the Benelux countries was the purchase of Bank Brussels Lambert, a Belgian bank. Business activity in the United States was increased with the acquisitions of Equitable of Iowa; Aetna Financial Services; ReliaStar, a life insurance company; and Fur-man Selz, a privately held New York securities firm, in 1997 for $600 million.
Other acquisitions by ING were into territories in which there was more political risk. In 2001 it bought the Polish Bank Slaski and the Mexican insurer Seguros Comercial America. It has also established working relationships with Asian institutions such as the Bank of Beijing and the Pacific-Antai Life Insurance Company based in Shanghai, and the China Merchants Fund Management Company.
In 2008 the financial crisis that began with the sub-prime mortgage problem in the United States was signaled by events like the bankruptcy of the Wall Street financial firm Lehman Brothers. ING’s exposure was very limited, so it was in a position to acquire several major banks in Iceland that collapsed. In a move to stabilize the situation for British depositors, the British Treasury had ING acquire the Icelandic deposits of Kaupthing Edge, Heritable Bank, and the Lands-banki with obligations of over £6 billion.