ING Barings chairman set to leave London

Hessel Lindenbergh, the chairman of ING Barings who supervised the rescue of the British merchant bank by the Dutch financial giant ING two years ago, is returning to Amsterdam having steered the subsidiary to "acceptable" levels of profitability.

The news came as ING Barings announced it had made a profit in the first quarter of 1997 which, for the first time, passed ING's minimum "hurdle" for all its investments, of 11 per cent.

ING Barings made a pre-tax profit of 120m guilders (pounds 38.7m) last year, although Aad Jacobs, chairman of the ING group, did not say how much it made in the first quarter of 1997. Of the 1996 profit, 70m guilders came from ING Barings, and 50m guilders from Barings Asset Management.

"Barings has not quite satisfied what we envisaged for it," said Mr Jacobs, adding that ING had invested over 2bn guilders in Barings since they rescued it two years ago after the discovery of massive unauthorised trading losses by Nick Leeson in Baring's Singapore office.

Mr Lindenbergh will be replaced by Marinus Minderhoud, another Amsterdam insider, who will have the task of merging ING's corporate banking unit ING Bank International with ING Barings. Under project "Blueprint" the newly merged bank will retain the name ING Barings and will be based in the London division's present offices at 60 London Wall.

There are no old "Barings hands" on the newly merged subsidiary's main board. Of the two London-based members of the board, Peter Bennett was recruited from UBS by ING since the rescue, while Peter Geraghty was always an ING man in the UK. Jeremy Palmer, who will be the director responsible for Asia, joined Barings before the crash, from JP Morgan.