9 Feb 2022

ASB half-year cash profit increases 22 percent, reaching $742m

1:13 pm on 9 February 2022

ASB has had a strong lift in profit on the back of increased lending, higher margins, and lower bad debts.

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(File image) Photo: RNZ / Nate McKinnon

The country's second biggest bank reported a net profit for the six months ended December of $762 million, up 23 percent on the previous year. The cash profit, excluding one-off costs, rose 22 percent to $742m.

Chief executive Vittoria Shortt said ASB had worked to support customers through $21m worth of fee reductions and rebates, cutting KiwiSaver administration fees, and lower fees for businesses.

"Small businesses are the backbone of New Zealand's economy, and they continue to face a range of pandemic-related impacts so we deliberately took a broad approach to the ways we could help beyond just financial."

Lending for housing rose 8 percent to $69.9 billion, more than two-thirds of total lending, while business loans rose 10 percent to $19.9b.

Shortt said the bank had financed almost 6200 first-home buyers and there had been no forced sales of owner-occupied homes for customers who had co-operated in finding solutions to finance problems.

"While the housing market remains a challenge, our arrears data shows no significant change and our advice for anyone finding it tough is to start talking to us early so that we can work together on a positive pathway forward."

The improved economy resulted in the bank gaining $13m in bad and doubtful debts, compared with last year's provision for $30m of losses.

The bank's interest rate margins increased as interest rates started to rise, but its costs also rose 5 percent as it took on more staff.

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