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Current as of 25/05/17 01:40PM NZST
Money Editor for NZ Herald

Westpac's $4.3 billion Aussie profit, New Zealand profit flat

Westpac New Zealand chief executive David McLean says the bank has faced a challenging environment. Photo/Brett Phibbs.
Westpac New Zealand chief executive David McLean says the bank has faced a challenging environment. Photo/Brett Phibbs.

Westpac New Zealand has delivered a flat half year result while it's Australian owner saw a A$4.017 billion (NZ$4.31b) cash profit.

Westpac New Zealand made cash earnings of $462 million in the six months to March 31, up 2 per cent from $452m in the same prior period.

Its net operating income fell 1 per cent to $1,078m driven by increasing pricing competition for deposits, impact from reduction in amortisation period for deferred acquisition costs and lower mortgage break fees.

The Australian result for the bank was a A$4.017b (NZ$4.31b) cash profit for the first half of the financial year.

The bank's loan book in New Zealand was up 7 per cent to $76.5b compared to the six months to March 2016 but only grew 2 per cent compared to six months to September 2016.

While its deposits were up 3 per cent to $56.8b compared to the same prior period, they were down 1 per cent compared to the six months to September 2016.

Westpac New Zealand chief executive David McLean said the bank was maintaining its focus on quality lending and targeted growth in a challenging environment with increased pressure on deposit and wholesale funding margins.

"We saw growth in targeted market sectors, including Auckland and millennials, and it is good to see a continuing recovery for many of our dairy farming customers, which is reflected in our significantly improved impairment position."

The banks impairments more than halved falling $45m to $36m.

But McLean said strong lending competition and increased funding costs had reduced its margin.

Westpac's net interest margin fell 22 basis points to 1.96 per cent while its operating expenses rose to $468m.

McLean said bank was in its second year of a three year programme to transform its customer service and continues to introduce customer-focused solutions.

"In the past six months we've improved our self-serve offerings.

"ATMs now offer both coin selection and note denomination options and since launch last September, 84,000 customers have downloaded our cash management app CashNav, enhancing their cash management options and spending visibility."

"In addition to increasing 24/7 digital offerings, we're investing in high growth areas, such as refurbishing our branch in Whanganui last year and opening a branch at Auckland Airport in April."

The bank also saw strong growth in its KiwiSaver business with funds increasing by 20 per cent in the last year and the average balance increasing from $5,800 in December 2012 to $11,400 in December 2016.

- NZ Herald

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