8 May 2017

Intense competition bites into Westpac's NZ profits

1:29 pm on 8 May 2017

Westpac Bank New Zealand's first-half profit fell as competition for deposits and a higher cost of funds drove down revenue.

Sign for Westpac Bank.

Photo: RNZ / Cole Eastham-Farrelly

The bank's net profit fell 3 percent to $198 million in the six months ended March, helped by a large improvement in the reduction of bad debt charges as improved milk prices helped the dairy sector recover.

Bad debt charges improved by $86m, to $36m.

The bank's cash profit, which excluded asset value changes, was up fractionally to $462m.

Revenue fell 4 percent to $610m, as interest income was cut by intense competition for deposits and a higher cost of funds.

Westpac New Zealand chief executive David McLean said the bank's income was also affected by reduced banking fees.

"[It is] one of several changes that have contributed to an 18 percent drop in customer complaints compared to the same period last year," he said.

Mr McLean said the bank was focused on "quality lending", as mortgage loans rose 6 percent and business lending rose 8 percent, over last year.

Net profit for the Australian-based Westpac Group's rose 6 percent to $A3.9 billion in the six months ended March, compared to the year earlier.

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