ING get-out-of-Spain strategy ignores mortgage vulnerabilities in other countries
ING Group [stock ING][/stock] posted a 2Q12 underlying net profit of around $1.3 million. That's down by about a fourth from last year.
Still, the results are good for the Danish government, which is looking to get its money back from the 2008 multimillion-dollar bailout of the Netherlands-based financial services corporation.
ING is also largely engaged in a "de-risking" strategy as part of those efforts.
That strategy is basically to get out of Spain, especially Spanish mortgage finance products. For example, the insurer reduced exposure to its Spanish markets by billions of euros, and nearly half of that is in covered bonds and residential mortgage-backed securities.
ING wants to reduce exposure further, even though it took deep losses on the sales of these securities, though this was expected.
The troubles in Spain are well-known, but a deeper look at the earnings also show troubles on other horizons.
Yes, total de-risking losses are mainly related to reduction of Spanish exposure by around $6 billion in 2Q12, and the insurer's pro-forma Basel III Core Tier 1 ratio is now at a healthy 11.1%. Still, loan performance in other countries is a growing concern.
The ING nonperforming loan ratio increased to 7.3% driven by the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, a recent high. In the fourth quarter of 2001, this was closer to 6%.
The ING mortgage book is only about 4% in the U.K., but more than 50% in the Netherlands. The U.K. will likely dip after the impact of the Olympics wears off, but the problem in the Netherlands is going largely unreported.
No matter, ING is not worried.
"Arrears remained stable in the second quarter," the investor presentation states. "[A] further decline in Dutch house prices and increase in unemployment would lead to higher risk costs on mortgages, but we do not expect a dramatic increase."