Australia's ANZ to Review Its Retail Unit in Asia

(Picture: Shutterstock)

(Picture: Shutterstock)

Australia's No. 4 lender is alone among the country's four major banks to have a large business in Asia, but is pulling out of less profitable segments to bolster earnings as regulatory costs rise.

Australian and New Zealand (ANZ) Banking Group is reviewing the company's retail operations in Asia as it continues to «reshape» the institutional products and services in a bid to slash costs and boost returns, a senior executive told news agency «Reuters».

«We are doing a strategic review on retail,» said Mark Whelan, head of ANZ's institutional business, speaking in Singapore. Investors have long lamented ANZ's Asia push, citing the bank's struggle to generate steady returns.

Part of a Reshaping

The move is expected to strengthen the bank's balance sheet, helping it to meet more stringent capital rules that Australian and global regulators are enforcing.

Whelan said that the retail review was part of a «reshaping» of the lender's Asian strategy that included exiting its commercial business in the region, and focusing on its core strengths in debt capital markets, syndicated loans and trading.

Caught in the Eye of a Storm

«We are pulling back in some risk-weighted assets but it's predominantly with customers that are not paying for the capital we're deploying,» Whelan said.

Australia's highly profitable banks are caught in the eye of a storm with politicians calling for a high-level public inquiry into a series of allegations of misconduct, including insurance fraud, improper wealth advice and interest-rate rigging, as also reported.

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