6 Nov 2017

Westpac's profits up 10% despite flat earnings

2:06 pm on 6 November 2017

Westpac New Zealand's full year profit is up, with flat earnings offset by lower costs.

Sign for Westpac Bank.

Photo: RNZ / Cole Eastham-Farrelly

The bank's cash earnings rose nearly 10 percent to $970 million in the 12 months ended September, compared with last year's $886m.

The bank's net interest income was flat at $1.74 billion, while non-interest income was down 1 percent to $512m.

Westpac New Zealand chief executive David McLean said core earnings fell 0.3 percent on last year, while tough competition put a squeeze on margins.

The net interest margin fell 13 basis points to 2.02 percent.

But the overall result was boosted by a $135m improvement in bad debts, as the dairy sector continued to recover.

"We've also stepped up our programme of proactively contacting default fund customers to check they are in the best fund for their needs," he said.

The bank's home loans grew 4 percent. Business lending was little changed, but there was an improvement in its agri-business.

"We've continued to support our farming customers through investment in more front line rural bankers. This has seen an increase in our agri-business lending and deposits of 4 percent and 17 percent respectively against the prior year."

Mr McLean said the bank was pleased with customer-deposit growth of 1.6 percent in a competitive market.

He said the bank had reduced or removed 11 of its banking fees, over the past year, and received 21 percent fewer customer complaints.

Westpac's Australian-based parent company posted an overall net profit of AU$7.99b, up 7 percent on last year.

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