ANZ half-year profit falls

ANZ New Zealand's half-year net profit dropped 4% from last year's record high thanks to losses from hedging and insurance policy revaluations.

ANZ Bank New Zealand has reported a statutory net profit after taxation of $929 million for the six months to 31 March 2019 – a 4% decrease on the corresponding half in the 2018 financial year.

Cash NPAT was $1,114 million, up 18%, due to one-off transactions, which included the sale of life insurance company OnePath Life (NZ) Limited and a 25% share in Paymark Limited.

ANZ New Zealand Chief Executive Officer David Hisco said the company’s steady half-year result reflected changes in the economy.

“The housing market has levelled off, particularly in Auckland which has been the growth engine of that sector over the past 10 years,” Mr Hisco said.

“When you combine that with historically low interest rates, intense competition in home lending that has impacted bank net interest margins, and our fee reductions, underlying revenue growth has been muted.

“International uncertainty hasn’t helped exporters, and tourism numbers, particularly from China, have been flat. While we are seeing welcome signs of a pick-up in investment, commercial and agri customers are still being cautious with their borrowings.”

He said ANZ New Zealand had offset revenue pressures through its continued focus on digital innovation and customer service while maintaining strong credit quality and cost discipline.

“Since 2010 we have maintained our leading market share with no change to our cost base, while investing more in digital products and services to make our business more efficient.

“This means we’ve been in a position to pass cost savings on to customers and reduce fees on more than 40 products and services worth about NZ$70 million in annual revenues while strengthening our competitive position.”

While the collective provision charge normalised, Mr Hisco said the low levels of credit losses during the reporting period reflected improvements in credit quality and a benign credit environment.

Despite the economic uncertainty he said that with low unemployment and interest rates and China likely to be the global growth engine for many years to come, New Zealand was in a good position to prosper.

“We need to be careful as a nation not to talk ourselves out of maximising our opportunities. The economy has strong foundations, we have many clever, innovative and hard-working businesses with a bright future, and all indications are that the 30 May Budget will be solid.

“As always, New Zealanders, particularly home owners, need to take advantage of the low interest rate environment to pay off as much debt as possible so they’re in a stronger position should circumstances change.”

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