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Post Info TOPIC: Australia's Westpac considers capital returns, flags shrinking margins

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Australia's Westpac considers capital returns, flags shrinking margins

Australia's Westpac considers capital returns, flags shrinking





Australia's Westpac Banking said on Tuesday (Aug 17) it is considering returning excess capital to
shareholders thanks to the country's post-pandemic rebound and after selling non-core assets,
but highlighted lending margins were shrinking.


The country's early control of the pandemic last year drove property prices and credit growth higher,
allowing big banks to return excess cash. Westpac, the No. 2 lender, is the only one out of
the "Big Four" that is yet to announce plans to return billions of cash back to investors.


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It did not disclose a profit for the third quarter on Tuesday, but reiterated its expectation of lower
margins for the second half and higher expenses for fiscal 2021.


Westpac said given its excess cash and tax credit balances, it was considering returning funds to
investors and it would provide an update on its plans at its full-year results in November.


"Management's explicit commentary around its surplus capital and franking position ... does bode
well for shareholders," Goldman Sachs analysts said in a note to clients.


However, reinstating guidance for lower margins and higher expenses in the second half, suggests
earnings expectations for the bank might be too optimistic, the broker added.


Westpac shares were 0.31 per cent lower in morning trading, in a broader market that was down
0.26 per cent.


It reported total impairment provisions of A$5.54 billion for the June quarter, including A$300
million for exposure to equipment financier Forum Finance.

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