Brussels, 19 November 2012
State aid: Commission approves amendments to the restructuring plan of ING
Following an agreement between the European Commission and The Netherlands, the Commission has approved an amended restructuring plan of the Dutch-based financial institution ING under EU state aid rules. ING agreed to a fixed repayment schedule and revamped its proposals to ensure that a new competitive force emerges in the Dutch retail market. At the same time the prolongation of certain deadlines for the divestment of assets is compensated by longer behavioural constraints on the bank. This new plan addresses the Commission's concerns.
Commission Vice President in charge of competition policy Joaquín Almunia said: "Our agreement with the Dutch authorities preserves the balance of the original plan. The issues created by all the state aid received by ING are adequately addressed by the amended plan. In the next three years, ING will repay to the Dutch state all the state support it received, including a premium. Incentives have also been put in place to ensure ING succeeds in creating a new competitive force, NN Bank, in the Dutch retail market. "
In the beginning of 2012, The Netherlands notified several amendments to the restructuring plan approved in 2009 (see IP/09/1729), because ING had difficulties in implementing the plan. In particular, ING had failed to pay remuneration for the state support and could not divest Westland Utrecht Bank ("WUB") as foreseen in 2009. In May 2012, the Commission opened an in-depth investigation into the notified amendments (see IP/12/468).
In its amended restructuring plan, ING committed to repay the outstanding state capital to the Dutch State by 2015. The Commission agreed to prolong the deadline for divesting ING's insurance business in Europe because of the current difficult market situation and the specificities of ING's business. The modalities of the divestment of ING Insurance US have also been modified. To compensate for these changes, the acquisition ban and the price leadership ban will be prolonged. The creation of NN Bank, through the divestment of ING's mortgage bank WUB together with its Dutch insurance business by 2015, will ensure competition is enhanced in the concentrated Dutch retail market.
To address the reasons of ING's failure to divest WUB within the initial schedule, ING also committed to a series of behavioural constraints aiming to ensure the commercial success of NN Bank. The price leadership ban in The Netherlands is not prolonged as it is made redundant by these new constraints. By contrast, the price leadership ban of ING Direct Europe is both prolonged and strengthened.
In the autumn of 2008, the Dutch State granted ING recapitalisation aid of €10 billion (see IP/08/1699), which was followed in March 2009 by an impaired asset measure, which contained a state aid element of €5 billion (see IP/08/1699). In October 2009, the Dutch State changed the repayment conditions of ING's recapitalisation aid, thereby giving ING the option to repay early at more favourable terms, which also contains state aid. Finally, ING also issued State-guaranteed debt under the Dutch Guarantee Scheme.
In November 2009, the Commission approved ING's restructuring plan (see IP/09/1729). In March 2012, the EU General Court (GC) annulled the Commission's 2009 decision for lack of reasoning concerning the analysis of a small part of the aid granted (cases T-29/10 and T-33/10).
In May 2012, the Commission adopted a new decision approving the 2009 restructuring plan, taking into account the concerns expressed by the General Court. At the same time, the Commission opened an in-depth investigation into amendments to the restructuring plan notified by The Netherlands and, following a complaint, on the pricing policy of ING Direct in Italy.
Today's decision will be published in the EU Official Journal. The non-confidential version of the decision will be made available under the case number SA.33305 and SA.29832 in the State Aid Register on the DG Competition website once any confidentiality issues have been resolved. New publications of state aid decisions on the internet and in the Official Journal are listed in the State Aid Weekly e-News