ING announces 4,200 additional job cuts

Dutch banking and insurance group ING has announced a further 2,400 job cuts after reporting a 21% rise in fourth-quarter net profit that still missed analysts' expectations.

As part of restructuring, ING will cut 1,400 jobs in the Netherlands and 1,000 in Belgium, resulting in total cost savings of €270m ($364m, £230m) a year.

"Retail Banking Netherlands is expanding the transformation programme started in 2011, leading to approximately 1,400 additional redundancies by the end of 2015 and reducing expenses by an additional EUR 120 million per annum from 2016 onwards," ING Group CEO Jan Hommen said in a statement.

"At ING Bank in Belgium, employee headcount is expected to decline by 1,000 FTEs by 2015, through natural attrition, leading to EUR 150 million in annual cost savings by 2015."

In the past 15 months, the company slashed 7,500 positions, as part of the group's restructuring amid tough operating conditions. ING employs about 93,000 people worldwide.

For the fourth quarter, the Netherlands' biggest bank by assets reported a net profit of €1.43bn, up from €1.19bn a year earlier, primarily due to gains on asset sales. Analysts expected the company to report a net profit of €1.52bn for the quarter.

The results included €643m in special items, primarily costs related to restructuring.

Nevertheless, the group's underlying pre-tax profit at banking operations fell 72 percent to €184m, hurt by a loss of €126m on the sale of southern European bonds.

ING is the latest banking major in Europe to announce staff layoffs in connection with their restructuring. Earlier, Barclays, Commerzbank and UBS have announced job cuts as they realign their businesses after suffering from the financial crisis.

In November, the European Commission allowed ING more time for its restructuring, granting another five years to complete the sale of its insurance businesses and repay the final €3bn of its €10bn bailout by May 2015.

To make things worse for the banks operating in the country, the Netherlands fell into recession in the fourth quarter as the vital housing and commercial property markets continued to deteriorate. The recession has particularly affected the country's banking sector, leading to the nationalisation of the country's fourth-largest bank, SNS Reaal NV.