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On Monday, Dutch bancassurer ING unveiled an unexpectedly aggressive plan to break itself up. In response to demands from the European Commission, the group will split its banking and insurance divisions, divest some retail banking assets in the Netherlands and the US, and launch a €7.5bn rights issue to repay some of the state aid it received late last year.
The company’s shares plunged on the news, dragging other large financial conglomerates with heavy state involvement—namely, RBS and Lloyds—down in sympathy. Subsequent news of wide-ranging asset sales at RBS and Lloyds has confirmed that the idea of cross-selling banking and insurance services under one roof is losing favour.
In his presentation to investors, ING chief Jan Hommen noted that ING’s shares have been rated more cheaply than pure banking or insurance groups for some time. But if that was the prime motivation for the break-up—and not an order from European regulators—ING would have likely done it long before.
Read more at Financial Services Briefing: “BreakING up”