ING shuts Eastern Europe equities ops, cuts 100 jobs

MOSCOW, Oct 1 (Reuters - Dutch bank ING is closing its equity markets desk covering Central and Eastern Europe and Russia, with the loss of around 100 jobs, it said on Monday.

"Market conditions remain challenging, we need to ensure the bank remains efficient and competitive," said Adrian Simpson, ING's UK head of corporate communications, confirming market talk of job losses.

ING will keep its equity markets desk in the "important core franchise" of the Benelux countries - Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg, Simpson said in a statement emailed to Reuters.

Its Polish equity market operation also remains open.

One market source close to ING in Moscow said the job cuts were announced on Monday by conference call after management reviewed the results of the loss-making third quarter at the end of last week.

The core Benelux operation was spared the axe, as was Poland, where ING has a strong business which accounts for a third of equities turnover, the source said. The job losses were spread across offices in London, Moscow, Prague and Budapest.

Dutch banks have been cutting jobs and scaling back international operations to help repay the government for emergency aid received in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis.

ING Group, which received a capital infusion of 10 billion euros ($12.87 billion) from the Dutch state, has been divesting banking and insurance businesses from North America to Asia.

Eastern European stock markets have suffered severe volatility and declining volumes, while Russia's stock market languishes at a 50 percent valuation discount to other emerging markets.

Amid persistent capital outflows, Russian stocks have even underperformed the price of oil, the country's main export, in recent years.

ING's move follows the closure by Italy's Unicredit

in July of its Moscow equities operation. ($1 = 0.7773 euros)

(Reporting by Zlata Garasyuta; Writing by Douglas Busvine; Editing by Helen Massy-Beresford)

(( 495 775 1242))