Resigning CEO Erik Van Den Eynden and CFO Hans De Munck sit there relaxed, each behind a screen from their home in Antwerp. In the first half of the year, the bank passed the corona storm and many internal issues – from IT and checking old customer files to the departure of group CEO Ralph Hamers – with a profit before tax of 26 million euros.
The numbers are better than some expectations. Is the worst coronal disease already over? “Difficult to say, but we are armed to absorb business due to our underlying results and strong capital base. Banks are much stronger compared to the credit crisis, as our figures show, ‘says De Munck
The CFO also points out that customers have saved EUR 6.1 billion more, an exceptional increase. ‘This gives us very good liquidity. Even if people save less, we have other sources of financing. We have never been more liquid. ‘
The negative outlier is the tripling of risk costs. ING Belgium had to set up an additional 338 million in provisions to deal with problems with bad loans. “Those numbers are what they are. We are the second largest corporate bank in Belgium and companies are struggling, ‘says Van Den Eynden.
The CEO is very satisfied with the commercial activities. ‘Interest income remains at the same level and the committees even rise slightly. That is a success in these times. ” The figures are remarkable, because customers and staff were criticized for the fact that ING hit the commercial brake with an unofficial credit freeze and the closing of offices.
ING Belgium denies such a credit freeze. The bank granted 7 billion new loans in the first half of the year, but saw its loan portfolio shrink between the first and second quarters. “Large companies have phased out credit lines that they had drawn up at the end of March,” says De Munck.
The fact that mortgage production also fell in the second quarter is due to ‘historically low demand’. Van Den Eynden: ‘We also had to process tens of thousands of files about pausing loans. We gave it priority. ”
The fact that ING was closing some agencies led to rumors about a definitive closure, now that people are banking more digitally through corona. “I wouldn’t link the two,” says Van Den Eynden.
ING now has 448 branches open. When will the last quarter follow? ‘Corona means we have to look at everything week by week. The combination of telephone, office and digital enables us to serve our customers well, ‘says the CEO. He emphasizes that this year all customers will be switching to a new app. “It can already do 90 percent of the old app, but many new functions are being added.”
‘Thanks to investments, we have no technical problems with working remotely and digitally and the figures are also good commercially. Some customers may just come to the office for any question, but we usually invite them to do so over the phone. ”
Conclusion: the quarter of offices that are still closed is no longer needed? “I cannot confirm that strong statement. We notice a change in behavior among customers, but it is impossible without offices. ‘
Dutch ING is doing better than expected
In the second quarter, the Dutch banking giant ING set up 1.3 billion extra provisions for bad loans. As a result, the quarterly profit fell by 79 percent to 299 million euros, which is less than expected.
Nevertheless, the ING share was an outlier in the stock market indices Bel20 and the AEX. Revenues were EUR 4.67 billion, a slight increase compared to last year, much higher than expected. Investors deduce from this that the corona impact is still relatively poor.
Steven van Rijswijk, the new CEO who recently succeeded Ralph Hamers, is optimistic about the strength of the company, as revenues have remained stable.
At the request of the regulators, ING is postponing its dividend payment until next year.