ING to cut another 2,400 Benelux jobs as Q4 falls short

AMSTERDAM (REUTERS) - Dutch banking and insurance group ING announced another 2,400 job cuts, in the Netherlands and Belgium, as it prepares to separate its banking and insurance operations against a backdrop of tough financial markets.

Several European banks including Deutsche Bank and UBS have also shed staff in recent months in a reassessment of their businesses after the financial crisis.

The latest round of layoffs at ING follows a similar announcement as recently as November and brings the cuts in the past 15 months to 7,500, or roughly 9 per cent of the Dutch group's total headcount at the end of December.

ING on Wednesday reported lower-than-expected fourth-quarter net profit of 1.434 billion euros (S$2.4 billion), up 21 per cent from a year ago thanks to gains from divestments.

But underlying pre-tax profit for the banking operations was 184 million euros, down 72 per cent from a year ago, while the insurance unit turned from a loss of 1.51 billion euros to an underlying pre-tax profit of 272 million euros.

Analysts polled by Reuters had forecast a net profit of 1.587 billion euros; the banking and insurance arms were expected to report underlying profit of 290 million and 265 million respectively.