2 May 2012

ANZ half-year profit rises

6:43 pm on 2 May 2012

ANZ New Zealand has lifted its half-year profit by nearly a third, to $615 million in the six months to March.

The Australian-owned bank's profit increased 29% on the same period last year.

Underlying profit rose to $684 million, up 13% compared with the same period a year ago, which ANZ says is due to the gradual economic recovery and a lower corporate tax rate.

Revenue at New Zealand's biggest bank rose 6% to $1.8 billion helped in part by a shift by households to floating mortgage rates, which are more profitable to banks, while its wealth business expanded.

Costs edged up, with the bank focused on cutting the number of products its sells, as well linking its sprawling operations to become more of a one stop shop to meet its customers' financial needs.

The bank set aside more money to cover potential bad loans, which rose 16% to 99 million, but says the trend shows the pressure is easing on customers struggling to pay their debts.

Underlying net lending to fell by 2% to $87 billion due to households and firms continuing to reduce debt, though ANZ says there are signs the pace of debt reduction is starting to slow.

Deposits rose 2% to 52 billion.

Overall, ANZ Banking Group has lifted its half year profit by 10% to $A2.92 billion but said its margins in its Australian business are declining.

Underlying profit, the bank's preferred measure of performance, was $A2.97 billion, up 6% per cent from $2.82 billion in the previous corresponding period.

ANZ New Zealand chief executive David Hisco says it's a reasonable result driven by the fact the bank's income was up a little, its provisions were down a little and also it managed its costs well.