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BNZ profit drops 25 per cent to $762 million

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The Bank of New Zealand’s net profit after tax fell 25 per cent or $260 million to $762m for the year to September 30 driven by increased impairments and the low interest rate environment.

The bank’s impairments rose $186m or 163 per cent to $300m as it put aside money for future potential loan defaults as a result of falling from the Covid-19 pandemic.

BNZ deposits rose 5.6 per cent to $71.8 billion while its loans and advances were up just 0.1 per cent to $88.1b.

BNZ chief executive Angela Mentis said it had been a challenging year.

“We have seen New Zealanders quickly reshape how they work, shop and live. They are doing things differently, seizing opportunities and banking in different ways.

“We will continue to grow and adapt in this rapidly changing environment.”

Mentis said in the past year customers had dramatically changed how they interact with their bank with an increasing use of digital and self-service options.

That had seen cash and cheque transactions in branches fall by more than half and 80 per cent of transactions that can be completed by Smart ATMs were no longer happening over the counter.

“COVID-19 has fast-tracked trends we’ve seen for some time with nearly three quarters of all our customers online or using our app,” she said.

BNZ parent National Australia Bank saw its cash earnings fall 36.6 per cent to A$3.71 billion while its net profit after tax was A$2.559b.

The bank will pay a final dividend of A30c per share down from 83c per cent in the same prior period. Its total dividend for the year is A60c per share down from A$1.66 in its 2019 financial year.

NAB chief executive Ross McEwan said the bank’s operating environment was evolving through the ongoing challenges and uncertainties associated with Covid-19.

“While economic activity has been materially impacted, the significant stimulus for households and businesses provided in the Federal Budget, combined with an expected more complete reopening of domestic state borders, provide a bridge to economic recovery as support is reduced.”

The bank has made A$1.856b in forward-looking provisions during its 2020 financial year.

McEwan said the increase in provisions in the second half of its financial year reflected continuing uncertainty in the outlook combined with extra cover for specific sectors most heavily impacted by Covid-19.

Those provisions had dragged down its cash profit by 25.9 per cent. Lower interest rates and lower fee income had also contributed to the bank’s decline in revenue, he said.

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