• SYDNEY, AAP – ANZ has posted a sharp rebound in first-half profit, as improving economic conditions helped it increase market share in the home loans segment and wind back some provisions for potential COVID losses.

    The Big Four lender reported cash profit for the six months to March 31 more than doubled from a year ago to $2.99 billion.

    Statutory net profit also jumped, nearly doubling from a year ago to $2.94 billion as the bank wound back almost $500 million in provisions due to improving credit conditions.

    ANZ chief executive Shayne Elliott said the bank was in a strong position, both financially and operationally,

    “Following the trends of the first quarter, all parts of our business performed well,” he said.

    ANZ is now the third largest home lender in the Australian market, after writing 92,000 new home loans during the six-month period. It is already the leading lender in the New Zealand property market, with 42,000 new loans there.

    ANZ’s profit had plunged last year after it was forced to make higher provisions to cover for the potential impact from the COVID-19 disruptions, which also forced it to scrap shareholder payouts.

    The bank has now wound back some provisions as a result of the improving economic outlook over the course of the half-year.

    “While many households and businesses are still doing it tough, Australia and New Zealand are emerging from the sharpest contraction in economic activity in a generation quicker and stronger than many believed possible,” Mr Elliott said, noted significant uncertainty remained.

    The bumper half-year numbers are broadly in line with analyst expectations of a $3 billion cash profit, and come despite ANZ last week outlining charges worth $817 million related to writedown of investments, goodwill and customer compensation.

    On Wednesday, the lender also declared a better-than-expected first-half dividend of 70 cents a share. It had scrapped interim dividend due to the economic uncertainty last year.

    ANZ FIRST-HALF REBOUND

    * Operating income down 6.0pct to $8.37bn

    * Cash profit up 225pct to $2.99bn

    * Net profit up 90pct to $2.94bn

    * Interim dividend 70 cents/sh vs NIL.