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ANZ to take bigger credit hit from resources exposure

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Australia and New Zealand Banking Group on Thursday flagged higher bad debt charges of over A$900 million (S$927 million) for the first-half of 2016 led by a deep downturn in Australia's resources sector, sending its shares lower.

[SYDNEY] Australia and New Zealand Banking Group on Thursday flagged higher bad debt charges of over A$900 million (S$927 million) for the first-half of 2016 led by a deep downturn in Australia's resources sector, sending its shares lower.

Most analysts expect the spike in soured debt to be specific to ANZ but some say a prolonged slowdown in commodity prices could hurt major banks after years of record profit, strong dividends and improving asset quality.

The bank just last month forecast bad debt charges of A$800 million. Resources exposures including oil & gas and mining accounted for 2.2 per cent of ANZ's total A$898 billion book at the end of September.

"This ANZ release suggests that the deterioration that they have seen is likely to have implications for the banking sector," Macquarie analyst Victor German said in a note.

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Investors took the news badly, driving shares in ANZ down 5.5 per cent. The other major banks were between 2 per cent to 3 per cent lower, underperforming a 1.1 per cent fall in the wider market.

Morgan Stanley analyst Richard Wiles forecast major bank impairment charges to nearly double to 28 basis points of total loans by fiscal year 2017 from 16 basis points in 2015, implying an "earnings headwind" of about 4 per cent a year over the next two years.

Westpac's head of commercial and business banking, David Lindberg, told investors on Thursday that stressed assets in his division were managed well and that the bank was not seeing"major cracks".

Westpac, however, was seeing signs of stress in its consumer loan book, Lindberg said.

ANZ announces results for the six months ending March 31 on May 3.

REUTERS

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