Dutch financial services group ING is to take a controlling interest in DiBa, Germany's oldest direct bank.
ING is to expand its 49% interest in DiBa with the acquisition of a further 21% stake in the company from joint venture partner DBAG, which manages investments for the German trade union movement. The transaction will settle in early 2001, leaving DBAG with a 30% interest in DiBa.
ING says the deal is part of its strategy to enter mature retail markets world-wide with the ING Direct concept. ING Direct was launched in Canada four years ago and currently also has operations in Spain, Australia, France, the United States and Italy. It offers banking, insurance and investment products via telephone, direct mail and the Internet supported by a limited network of informal high street outlets. The Dutch bank says ING Direct has doubled its customer numbers in the first nine months of 2001, rising to 1.5 million with total funds entrusted now exceeding EUR15 billion.
DiBa, with 600,000 clients in Germany, will add a further EUR3.6 billion to ING's direct banking portfolio.
Ewald Kist, chairman of the executive board of ING, says that "over time" the bank will consider dropping the DiBa name in favour of the international ING Direct branding.
ING also announced a joint venture agreement with DBAG, German subsidiary BHF-Bank and diversified financial services group BHW to enter the newly defined field of pension products relating to individual and group pension schemes in Germany based on the new Riester legislation.
The intended pensions joint venture will operate under the name BHW Invest FT. Frankfurt-Trust, the German asset management company of BHF-Bank, will provide the joint venture with technical know-how in fund management, account management and IT support.