10 Feb 2016

ASB posts record first-half profit

5:28 pm on 10 February 2016

ASB Bank has posted a record first-half profit on the back of growth in lending and deposits, although it says its margins are shrinking and there are pressures from weak dairy prices.

The Australian-owned bank made $474 million in the six months ended December, an increase of 7 percent compared with the year earlier.

ASB said lending across the board to businesses and consumers had continued to grow, about 10 percent on a year ago to nearly $69 billion, while deposits had also risen, by around 9 percent.

However, the interest rate margin - in essence the bank's profit margin - had fallen, which it put down largely to the fall in interest rates and borrowers making the most of low fixed-rate loans.

Income from other financial services such as funds management and insurance was also higher, with around two out of every five customers having an investment or insurance policy with the bank.

ASB also increased the amount for bad and doubtful debts by $4m to $41m - reflecting the risks to the rural sector from depressed prices and falling incomes.