ANZ LOOKING TO OFFLOAD WEALTH BUSINESS AS PROFITS SLIDE

ANZ LOOKING TO OFFLOAD WEALTH BUSINESS AS PROFITS SLIDE
ANZ bank's full-year cash profit slumped by 18 per cent to a five year low of $5.9 billion as it considers exiting its poor performing wealth business in Australia.

The bank was hit hard by one-off after tax charges to the sum of more than $1 billion related to changes in accounting practices and the bank's IT platforms. Removing the impact of these items, ANZ said its cash profit was down 3 per cent to $7 billion.

An internal strategic review of the bank's wealth business found that although the distribution of its wealth products and services should "remain a core component of the Group's overall customer proposition" the bank no longer needs to manufacture them.

"The initial focus will be on the Australian wealth business where ANZ is exploring a range of possible strategic and capital market options that will maintain strong outcomes for customers," says ANZ.

"This includes the possible sale of the life insurance, advice and superannuation and investments businesses in Australia. ANZ will pursue a disciplined approach to this process and will update the market as appropriate."

This development comes just days after the bank announced the sale of its wealth businesses in Singapore, Hong Kong, China, Taiwan and Indonesia to Singapore's DBS Bank.

The Australian wealth division cash profit for the year fell 24 per cent to $327 million.

Fresh off the back of the recent federal government inquiry into Australian banks, ANZ is also focused on changing its culture to better align with customer's needs.

"We are also making changes to ensure we are fairer and more balanced in the way we deal with customers and to demonstrate our commitment to community responsibility," says chief executive of ANZ, Shayne Elliot.

"The current discussion about the banking sector in Australia however shows that we still have more to do to shift out culture and evolve the way we do business."

Elliot believes that ANZ has a clear strategy and a consistent focus on simplifying its business as well as re-balancing its overall portfolio.

"Importantly we have the organisation aligned and we have established momentum in relation to the work that still needs to be done," he says.

"This sets us up well to increase the pace of execution in 2017 and to deliver a better bank for customers and for shareholders."

ANZ shares were trading at $27.41 as of 3.30 pm (AEST), a 1 per cent increase in share price from the opening of the day.

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