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ANZ National loses ground in agricultural lending

Tuesday 22nd November 2011

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ANZ National Bank, the nation’s biggest lender, lost rural customers as its loan book shrank during the 2011 financial year.

The local arm of Melbourne-based Australia & New Zealand Banking reported a fall in agriculture net loans to $17.32 billion as at Sept. 30, from $18.55 billion a year earlier, according to its general disclosure statement.

Rural lending has traditionally been a strength for the lender, which grabbed the National Bank’s base when it bought the rival bank in 2004, and it is still ANZ National’s biggest non-residential exposure.

The bank blamed deleveraging in the rural sector for its reduction in second-half lending when it announced its annual result earlier this month.

ANZ National’s total net loans fell to $83.61 billion as at Sept. 30 from $85.91 billion at the end of the 2010 year, with residential loans flat at $43.79 billion from $43.89 billion a year earlier.

The shrinking loan book didn’t dent the bank’s earnings of $1.08 billion in the 2011 financial year, the first time it topped a billion dollars since 2008.

The bank also lost its share of the term deposit market, with some $33.8 billion in deposits as at Sept. 30, from $34.69 billion a year earlier.

Earlier this month, the bank said it was working on significant cost reductions including channel rationalisation, though the lender is refusing to be drawn on whether that includes shutting down the National Bank brand. ANZ National holds the rights to Lloyd’s black horse trademark until 2014.

The dual-listed ANZ shares fell 1.7 percent to $25.80 on the NZX, and have shed 15 percent this year.

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