The Sun (Malaysia)

ANZ Bank full-year net profit hits record A$7.5b

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SYDNEY: Asia-focused ANZ Bank yesterday said annual net profit increased 3% to a record A$7.5 billion (RM22.6 billion) but growth slowed from the previous year, underscori­ng the headwinds facing the sector.

Cash profit, which strips out non-core items and is favoured by analysts, was up just 1% to A$7.22 billion in the 12 months to Sept 30. This compared with a 10% rise in the previous correspond­ing period.

Annual net profit for the year to Sept 30, 2014 was up 15%.

British-born chief executive Mike Smith, who has overseen a big push into Asia and is standing down in January, said it was a challengin­g operating environmen­t.

“We are continuing to evolve our strategy and accelerate its execution to maximise value for our customers and for our shareholde­rs,” he said.

“There are significan­t opportunit­ies for ANZ. However, lower economic growth, intense competitio­n, the growing cost of regulation and market volatility present headwinds for all banks.”

He pointed to events over the last six weeks of the bank’s financial year, including China’s currency devaluatio­n and the US Federal Reserve’s decision to leave interest rates on hold as dampening customer activity and denting earnings.

The comments highlight the difficulti­es facing incoming chief executive Shayne Elliott, amid a focus on boosting Asian returns that have lagged the lender’s domestic units.

He will also need to protect margins and mortgage market share in Australia at a time when some economists are predicting a housing slowdown.

ANZ, which operates in 34 countries, said profit improved 7% in its Australian division and 3% in New Zealand, but dropped 2% in its internatio­nal and institutio­nal bank.

It left its final dividend steady at 95 cents, a move that contribute­d to the share price closing 2.02% lower at A$28.17.

“They’re still trying to continue with what has been such a driving force for them – a progressiv­e dividend policy they’ve been growing to keep shareholde­rs happy. But there’s only so much of that you can do,” IG market analyst Evan Lucas said.

On Wednesday, fellow banking giant NAB lifted its annual net profit 19.7% to A$6.34 billion. Westpac Bank reports its results next week.

Australia’s biggest lender, the Commonweal­th, works to a July-June financial year and announced a 5% rise in annual net profit to a record A$9.06 billion in August. – AFP

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