NETHERLANDS – ING says its institutional assets under management have risen by 4.4% to 131.1 billion euros in the three months to the end of March.

ING asset management’s pre-tax profit rose 26% to 116 million euros from 92 million euros – although its contribution to group profit fell to six percent from eight percent.

It said: “The increase was largely due to higher results from the asset management activities in Europe, notably ING Belgium, and the US.”

The group said the arm had an “organic net inflow” of nine billion euros in the first quarter, taking its total assets under management for third parties to 333 billion euros, from 314 billion euros at the end of 2003.

Of its 488 billion euros of total assets under management, 253 billion euros was in fixed income, 168 billion euros in equities and 31 billion euros in real estate.

ING’s total pension assets rose to 176 billion euros as at the end of the first quarter, a five percent rise on the end of 2003. Total pension premiums were 8.1 billion euros, or 29% of the 28 billion euros in the whole of 2003.

ING also said that Fred Hubbell would take board responsibility for ING Investment Management Europe as part of a new management restructure.

Overall, ING’s overall operating net profit rose 32% to 1.19 billion euros. “ING made a strong start to the year, driven mainly by an excellent performance at our banking businesses,” said executive board chairman Michel Tilmant.