(Updates with detail)
AMSTERDAM, May 9 (Reuters) - ING Groep, the largest Dutch-based financial services company, reported on Wednesday a 2.1 percent rise in first quarter underlying pretax profit to 1.69 billion euros ($2.0 billion), beating expectations on lower provisions for bad loans.
Analysts polled for Reuters had seen the figure falling to 1.48 billion euros, compared to 1.65 billion euros in the same quarter a year ago.
CEO Ralph Hamers said in a statement “commercial momentum remained strong” during the quarter and the company had weathered the change to new Basel and IFRS accounting rules with a common equity tier 1 (CET1) ratio of 14.3 percent.
ING said core lending grew by 12.3 billion euros and it added 400,000 new customers, while the bank’s underlying interest margin was steady at 1.52 percent.
Loan provisions fell to 85 million euros from 133 million, which ING said was due in part to IFRS accounting changes. However, it said the unusually low numbers reflect good economic conditions in most of its biggest markets, which include Germany, the Netherlands, Australia and Poland. ($1 = 0.8438 euros) (Reporting by Toby Sterling; Editing by Biju Dwarakanath and Muralikumar Anantharaman)