Netherlands-based ING has returned to the
black, posting a first quarter net profit of €1.33 billion ($1.69
billion), compared with a loss of €793 million in the corresponding
period a year ago.

While ING’s first quarter earnings were
boosted by the one-off gain of €400 million, following the sale of
its Asia and Swiss-based private banking arm, underlying retail
banking net earnings more than trebled to €626 million from the
year-ago quarter.

ING Direct, which suffered a miserable fiscal
2009 posting an annual loss of €666 million, recovered to record
profits before tax of €269 million in the first quarter.

The pioneer of the direct banking model, ING
Direct continued to struggle in the UK, posting a first quarter
loss of €9 million while UK-based total deposits fell by more than
10 percent year-on-year to €15.6 billion.

Average balances per UK savings clients have
also continued their recent sharp decline: down from €38,000 in the
fourth quarter of 2006 and €20,000 in the fourth quarter of 2007 to
just under €11,000 in the first quarter of 2010.

Across the group, ING Direct total customer
numbers increased by 2.7 percent year-on-year to 23.1 million with
total deposits up almost 10 percent to €227.2 billion.

ING’s insurance unit, set for sale before the
end of 2013 to comply with European Union regulations on state aid,
also returned to the black, posting profits of €269 million,
compared with a loss of €954 million a year ago.