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S&P maintains Big Four credit ratings

S&P maintains Big Four credit ratings

(17 May 2006 – Australia) Ratings agency Standard & Poor’s has affirmed its AA-/A-1+ counterparty credit ratings on ANZ, Commonwealth Bank, National Australia Bank and Westpac in the wake of the banks’ interim results. S&P said the AA- rating on the Big Four reflected their strong business and financial characteristics which had benefited from a prolonged period of economic growth, low credit costs, productivity gains, and improved risk management capabilities.

"The earnings profiles of the major banks compare well with international peers, with asset quality experience seen as a key strength," S&P Financial Ratings credit analyst Craig Bennett, said.

However, S&P pointed to Australian banks’ reliance on the Australia and New Zealand economies.

"Evaluated against higher rated international peers that have broad-based loan portfolios and business activities, the Australian major banks’ earnings resilience is more reliant on a single economy, although one that has performed very well in recent times," Bennett said.

"The Australian banking system remains one of the strongest globally evaluated by Standard & Poor’s, benefiting from a history of interest rates and unemployment that are both low and stable," he said.
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