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ANZ New Zealand boosts annual cash profit 12 percent as staff cuts trim costs, bad debts fall

Tuesday 29th October 2013

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ANZ New Zealand, the country's biggest lender, boosted its annual cash profit as staff cuts and fewer bad debts trimmed its costs, offsetting smaller margins lending in the face of increased competition.

Cash profit rose to $1.44 billion in the 12 months ended Sept. 30 from $1.29 billion a year earlier, the bank said in a statement. Statutory profit rose 8 percent to $1.37 billion.

Net interest income fell 3 percent to $2.64 billion, a smaller decline than the 13 percent drop in operating expenses to $1.49 billion. The cost cuts came in a period when it shaved 10 percent from its workforce to 7,400 full-time equivalent positions. The bank cut its provision for credit impairments to $65 million in the year from $194 million in 2013.

"Our business performance has been built on simplifying our products, improving processes and systems and delivering a better banking experience for customers," chief executive David Hisco said. "We have concentrated investment on our brand, sales training, branch coverage and digital capability."

The New Zealand unit's performance was in line with the wider group, with Australia & New Zealand Banking reporting an 11 percent increase in cash profit to A$6.5 billion on a 3 percent increase in operating income to A$18.38 billion. The group lifted net profit 11 percent to A$6.27 billion, and declared a final dividend of 91 Australian cents per share, taking the total payment to A$1.64.

ANZ's New Zealand segment, which excludes certain businesses within ANZ New Zealand in its reporting, increased net loans 4 percent to $91.48 billion in the year, while lifting customer deposits 5 percent to $52.24 billion.

The net interest margin shrank to 2.49 percent as at Sept. 30 from 2.63 percent a year earlier amid strong lending competition, more expensive wholesale funding costs, and customers choosing lower margin fixed rate products, the bank said.

The bank's fastest lending growth came from small businesses, which grew an annual 13 percent to $20.45 billion, followed by 3 percent growth in retail loans to $36.42 billion, and a 1 percent increase in commercial agri lending to $34.62 billion.

ANZ's dual-listed shares rose 0.5 percent to $38.05 on the NZX, and have climbed 20 percent this year.

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