ANZ Bank chief executive Shayne Elliot has defended deferring loan repayments for thousands of customers struggling through the pandemic, which shareholders say resulted in lower dividends.
Mr Elliot on Wednesday said 92 per cent of Australian home loan customers (31,000 accounts) allowed deferral earlier this year had resumed repayments.
The figures were based on data as of December 11.
“Some shareholders however have rightly questioned if this support was at the expense of our shareholders,” Mr Elliot told the bank’s annual general meeting.
The bank paid a first-half dividend of 25 cents per share, and a final dividend of 35 cents per share. Both were fully franked.
Yet Mr Elliot did not regret the support measures.
“The answer is clear – this was completely aligned with shareholder interests,” he said.
“Treating customers with respect and providing help in the tough times earns respect and loyalty in the good times.”
The payouts were also lower as the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority urged caution during difficult times, then capped dividends.
Mr Elliot also put the cost of the support measures in historical perspective and noted the low interest rates of 2020.
“Giving customers a chance to work things out is cheaper than at any time in our history,” he said.
Chairman Paul O’Sullivan said the bank would review its approach to dividends.
Shares were up 2.29 per cent to $23.49 at 1408 AEDT.