The European Commission has quashed an appeal from ING Groep NV workers who had asked the EU's executive arm to relax the restructuring plan for the Dutch financial services company, a document seen by Dow Jones Newswires Monday showed.
In April, ING's works council accused the commission of giving ING much tougher treatment than other European banks that received state aid, warning that it might endanger the company's future.
ING was ordered by the European Commission to nearly halve its balance sheet in order to gain approval for being bailed out twice by the Dutch government in the financial crisis.
As a result, the firm has to divest its insurance and investment arms and sell ING Direct, its Internet bank operation in the U.S. It is also prevented from offering the best rates for savings, mortgages or company deposits in the EU.
In a reply to ING's works council seen by Dow Jones Newswires, European Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia said that he is "confident that ING's restructuring plan constitutes a good basis for its future operations" and that "after having undergone the necessary restructuring, [it] will emerge a stronger player and competitor."
"ING wanted to reduce the complexity of its bank-assurance business model and to leave the U.S. market where many of its problems derived from," Almunia said.
"Finally, measures such as an acquisition ban or the prohibition to be price leader … are deemed to address the distortion of competition," he added.
Amsterdam-based ING is appealing some parts of the restructuring and hopes if it wins the commission might be legally forced to relax its measures.
It expects the European Court of Luxembourg to rule on the issue by the end of 2011.