ANZ Bank is freezing the pay of its executives in a bid to show shareholders the business is being run responsibly, according to a leaked company memo.

Chief executive Michael Smith said there would be a limited salary increase budget of 1 per cent for the top 900 executives this year.

"We are taking action to position ANZ ahead of the curve by making decisions that demonstrate to our people, customers and shareholders that we are running our business in a responsible and sustainable way," Smith said in an internal memo.

"This includes monitoring and taking action on fixed costs, including executive salaries."

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Smith added that would mean salaries for most executives would remain fixed for the next year with rises targeted at those positioned lower and performing well.

ANZ New Zealand yesterday confirmed that the policy on freezing executive pay would be applied to the bank's New Zealand business, including the National Bank.

David Hisco was appointed ANZ New Zealand chief executive in September last year, taking over from Jenny Fagg, whose remuneration for the year to September 30, 2010, was A$2.1 million ($2.6 million), according to the annual report.

"Restraint on executive salaries is appropriate while ensuring we still reward staff who perform well against a difficult operating environment," the bank said.

Other major Australasian banks, including Westpac and BNZ, declined to comment yesterday.

- Staff reporter, agencies