29 Oct 2020

ANZ Bank profits drop 27 percent after taking hit from pandemic

12:01 pm on 29 October 2020

The country's biggest bank has reported a sharp fall in profit as its costs increased, margins were squeezed, and it put aside more for bad debts.

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File image. Photo: RNZ / Dom Thomas

ANZ's net profit for the year ended September was $1.34 billion, compared with $1.83b a year ago - a 27 percent drop.

Chief executive Antonia Watson said the full-year figures were a result of the challenging economic environment and also reflected the sale of UDC Finance Limited in September 2020, together with benefits in the previous financial year from the sales of OnePath Life and the bank's share in Paymark.

"Covid-19 brought unprecedented challenges to our country and consequently for many businesses, including ANZ NZ, and this is reflected in our full-year result."

About $400m was set aside for bad and doubtful debts.

"Despite the difficult year, ANZ NZ has continued to perform well, demonstrating it can weather challenging economic conditions and play an important role in supporting customers through the crisis."

Watson said the bank had so far provided financial support to 43,000 loan customers covering $27b worth of lending by way of repayment deferrals, moving to interest only, or loan adjustments.

"As New Zealand's largest bank, we've been in a unique position to assist thousands of New Zealand businesses through a period of severely curtailed business activity.

"I'm proud that, despite such challenging conditions, we've been able to continue to lend and provide certainty to customers with an approach that is fair, transparent and consistent so access to credit isn't a factor that holds them back."

Lending was up 3 percent year-on-year while customers also appeared to keep cash, reflected in an 11 percent increase in deposits.

The bank's income fell 6 percent, while expenses increased by 10 percent due to higher regulatory compliance spend and writedowns relating to the intended windup of the Bonus Bonds Scheme.

This included a significant investment in a number of technology systems to meet Reserve Bank requirements to have a stand-alone bank.

KiwiSaver funds also grew to $16.4b - an 11 percent increase.

A dividend was not paid as the Reserve Bank has put a temporary ban on retail banks paying out, in order to conserve cash during the pandemic.

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