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Australia's ANZ Bank posts 11 percent profit drop

Australia's ANZ Bank posts 11 percent profit drop

ANZ Banking Group Ltd. on Thursday reported an 11 percent fall in annual net profit, hit by higher bad debts as the economy slowed, and warned impaired loans would continue to be a problem into 2010.
The Australian-based lender said net profit fell to AU$2.943 billion ($2.64 billion) in the 12 months to September 30, from $3.319 billion the previous year.
However, cash earnings increased 12 percent to $3.383 billion, from $3.029 billion.
Chief executive Mike Smith said while fiscal 2009 had been a difficult year for bad debts, the rate of growth in impaired loans had slowed in the second half.
He said the economic slowdown had contributed to bad debts from the commercial and personal sectors, which he expected to continue into next year.
"However, given the resilience of the Australian economy, the stabilization we are beginning to see in the New Zealand economy and the strength of the Asian economies, particularly China, we believe credit quality has now stabilized."
Smith said ANZ's strong capital position meant the bank could explore further growth opportunities.
"That gives us opportunities to grow and through acquisition, as opportunities arise," he told reporters.
ANZ declared a final dividend of 56 cents, 25 percent lower than corresponding period last year.