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Westpac looks to business lending

Westpac looks to business lending

(31st October 2003 – Australia) Westpac boss David Morgan said an expected upsurge in the bank’s business lending is likely to offset the softening housing sector over the coming year. Announcing a post tax profit of $2,183 million for fiscal year 2002 – up 10 percent on the 2002 result – Morgan said 2004 had started positively and that he expected medium term cash earnings growth to be in the six to 10 percent range.

However, the bank failed to be more specific on the outlook for 2004, saying regulatory requirements in the UK and US made profit forecasts increasingly difficult.

During the profits briefing, Westpac denied any hankering for a larger stake in ailing financial services outfit AMP.

Morgan said the bank’s BT Financial Group funds management division currently had a stake of about 1.6 percent in AMP.

In further Westpac news, the bank has admitted it had a very close look at acquiring National Bank of New Zealand, and at one stage fully expected to complete the deal. However, regulatory hurdles dissuaded the bank from pursuing the kiwi bank.

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