ING Bank has seen its Asian business grow rapidly over the past five years, driven by trade and commodity financing to European and Asian companies, said Mark Newman, chief executive, ING commercial banking Asia. On average, the business in Asia has grown 20-25 per cent each year.
Benelux’s largest bank, which celebrates its 25 years in Singapore next month, may not be high profile but it has kept to a stable strategy for its Asian business, he said yesterday.
“It’s always had a focus on three main areas, which is the inward/outward bound business for basically European clients in Asia and taking our Asian clients to our European platform, and we have two main global products which is structured finance and financial markets.”
On how ING competes with bigger European rivals such as HSBC, he said that it has home market advantage and is the only Benelux bank with a large international presence.
Many of ING’s European clients are major Belgian and Dutch companies such as Shell and Heineken.
The bank also services major trading houses such as Glencore and Noble, he said.
All the large Chinese banks are also clients, he added.
ING has a large presence in Central and Eastern Europe and it has noticed more and more Asian clients moving to those countries, said Newman.
“We’re very large in Poland and Russia. We’re the only Benelux bank with a very large network in Asia.”
ING has 14 offices in Asia including China, South Korea and Japan with a headcount of 900 people. It was the first foreign bank four years ago to open in Mongolia which is rich in coal and copper, said Newman.
Its newest Asian office is in Vietnam.
Singapore is the regional hub where ING has about 460 employees with 200 in its operations and IT banking hub at Tampines.
Newman confirmed that the bank would be expanding its operations hub in Singapore later this year as more backroom processing work will be done here.
Earlier in June, the bank said that it was considering moving more of the back office IT operations from the Netherlands and Belgium to Singapore as part of the bank’s reorganisation that began last year.
ING is investing 500 million euros (S$794 million) over the next four years in its global transaction services business to ensure it stays competitive as more and more banks compete to provide trade finance and cash management.
“Trade finance is generally low risk, short term, consumes less capital; in general, within banks, there’s a shift towards trade finance away from long-term lending,” said Juultje van der Wijk, ING global head of trade finance services in June.
ING’s annual volume of exports flow facilitated into Asia is 50 billion euros and the biggest flows are to China, India and South Korea. ING ranks No 16 in the Top 20 European Financial Institutions by market capitalisation.