EUROPE – ING says its operating profits from asset management rose 40.3% in the first nine months of 2004 - driven by the institutional asset management business.

“The functional operating profit before tax from asset management (derived from figures included in the insurance and banking results) increased 40.3% to 334 million euros in the first nine months of 2004,” the company said.

“Growth was mainly driven by the institutional asset management business (including ING Real Estate, Baring Asset Management and ING Investment Management) and private banking.”

Total institutional assets under management rose by 6.1% to 133.4 billion euros – with overall AUM up 6.5% to 493 billion euros. Asset management’s share of profits at ING has risen to six percent, from 5.5% before.

ING Investment Management Europe “continues to increase the distribution of its products through third-party distribution channels as a result of market developments in the field of open architecture”.

The arm was boosted by its Euro and Global Equity strategies – with the High Dividend fund attracting an 852 million-euro inflow.

And it said the Americas division was “successfully capitalising on its fixed income strategies and funds, receiving inflows from US and European pension plans of 1.4 billion euros in the first nine months, including 1.1 billion euros in the third quarter”.

ING Real Estate posted a pre-tax operating profit of 199 million euros, up from 92 million euros a year before.

Overall, the Amsterdam-based group posted a third-quarter net profit of 1.59 billion euros, up 63.2%. Chairman Michel Tilmant said: “Underlying profit developments of our core businesses have continued to be strong in the first nine months.

“We saw top-line growth in both banking and insurance, and we continue to focus on containing our operating expenses. As a result, ING remains confident about its full-year results for 2004.”