NU Online News Service, March 17, 2003, 5:50 p.m. EST – The ING Groep N.V., Amsterdam, is writing down about $14 billion in goodwill in connection with past acquisitions, such as the 2001 acquisitions of ReliaStar Financial Corp., Minneapolis, and the financial services and international units of Aetna Inc., Hartford.

The writedowns represent a decrease in the stated value of the units that ING carries on its books.

Dutch accounting rules let ING amortize goodwill over time and use the original acquisition price when calculating goodwill, but U.S. accounting rules require ING to treat goodwill as a capital item and review goodwill annually to see whether market conditions have cut the value of acquired units, ING says.

The changes to ING’s U.S. financial statements will not affect its Dutch financial statements, the company says.

ING also reported that the ratio of actual capital to capital required by regulators fell to 157% at its main ING Verzekeringen N.V. unit on March 10, from 169% at the end of 2002.

The stock market has done poorly since the end of 2002, but hedging transactions have helped protect the capital ratio, ING says.