NETHERLANDS – Institutional assets under management at Dutch banking and insurance group ING have fallen 1.6%.

They fell to 126.9 billion euros at the end of the first quarter from 128.9 billion euros at the end of 2002. Total assets under management fell 16.2 billion euros, or 3.6%, to 432.8 billion euros, from 449.0 billion euros at the end of 2002.

There were net inflows of 6.1 billion euros. But market declines and the stronger euro accounted for a total negative impact of 22.2 billion euros.

Pre-tax operating profits at ING’s various asset management businesses fell 41% to 67 million euros. “The investment performance of ING’s asset management businesses continues to be satisfactory,” it said in a statement.

ING also signalled its aim to develop its pensions business, saying it has created a global pensions steering committee. “The committee will focus on capturing the long-term growth opportunity in the field of pensions for ING’s retirement savings/benefits businesses worldwide,” it said.

Citing “economic uncertainties” ING did not make a forecast for its full-year 2003 earnings. “The executive board remains convinced that ING Group has a solid base in core markets, is well-positioned in growth markets, will continue to exploit its many synergy opportunities successfully and is adequately responding to today’s difficult market conditions.”

The group’s overall net profit declined 85.3% to 167 million euros, from 1.1 billion euros in the first quarter of 2002. Total income declined 9.7% to 18.2 billion euros. It would cut up to 1,500 jobs a year up to 2005 to cut costs.