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ING sees Q1 profits rise 3.3%

Dutch banking firm ING Groep has announced a 3.3 per cent rise in net profits over the first quarter, thanks mainly to a strong retail banking business.

The increase sees ING's profits rise to $2.57 billion for the first three months of 2006, up from $2.48 billion a year ago, while banking operations increased by 12 per cent.

As well as strong growth in the retail banking sector, the Dutch bank has seen a healthy business in insurance sales in Asia, as well as mortgages at home.

Michel Tilmant, ING chairman, said that he was happy with his bank's performance.

"The first quarter marked a strong start to the year," he said.

"Our emphasis on value creation has led to increased returns from both insurance and banking as business units sharpen their focus."

"Expenses have also remained under control as we continue to improve execution and increase efficiency, despite continuing investments to increase customer satisfaction and strengthen compliance," he added.

The company results beat forecaster's predictions, and the strong performance means that rumours are now rife about possible acquisitions that the bank is set to make, although Mr Tilmant said that if any acquisitions were to be made, they would be small ones.