A series of significant write-downs
have led to ING Direct, the direct banking arm of Dutch insurance
giant ING, to post a net loss of €68 million ($96.5 million) for
the first six months of 2009. ING itself posted a €578 million
profit – a year-on-year fall of 70 percent – over the same

Net interest income at ING Direct rose from
€1.18 billion a year previous to €1.52 billion in the first two
quarters of 2009, a result of higher customer balances and larger
interest margins, but total investment and other income slid to a
€553 million loss versus a €59 million profit a year ago.

Of a group-wide total of €583 million worth of
impairments, some €491 million came from ING Direct. However, loan
loss provisions were €244 million compared with €438 million within
ING’s separate retail banking division.

ING Direct said it added 100,000 new clients
in the second quarter, bringing its total worldwide customer base
to 22.6 million. The non-performing loan (NPL) ratio in the US, the
epicentre of the economic crisis, rose to 4.1 percent at the end of
June compared with 3.7 percent at the end of March, though the bank
said this was still below benchmark NPL rates.

The US business reported an underlying loss of
€13 million for the quarter versus a profit of €89 million in the
second quarter of 2008, but the ongoing restructuring of ING
Direct’s UK business helped it post a second quarter pre-tax profit
of €26 million versus a Q2 loss of €21 million a year