- ING Group's underlying net profits fell to €2.6m in 2012 - 5.2% down on last time.

The net result including divestments, discontinued operations and special items was €3.9bn - 32.5% down on 2011.

The group said the underlying result was despite €626m of de-risking losses at the bank, a €175m Dutch bank tax, and higher loan losses as the economy weakened.

Chief executive Jan Hommen said: "2012 was a transformational year for ING as we worked decisively on the restructuring of the group, preparing the bank and insurance companies for independent futures.

"In the fourth quarter we announced two major divestments of our Asian insurance/IM businesses. We filed the IPO registration statement for our US insurance business, and we reached an agreement with the European Commission which gives us more time and greater flexibility for restructuring.

"The bank made strides in optimising its balance sheet and generating capital to meet Basel III requirements while funding a payment of €1.125bn to the Dutch State and upstreaming an additional €1bn to the group to reduce core debt.

"Results for the year held up well, despite the sovereign debt crisis in Europe and weak economic climate which persisted throughout 2012."

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