ANZ full-year cash profit climbs 1%, bad debt charges rise

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(Bloomberg) -- Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd.’s full-year earnings were little changed as an increase in lending was offset by higher bad-debt charges.

Cash profit, which excludes one-time items, climbed 1 percent to $7.22 billion in the year ended Sept. 30 from $7.12 billion a year earlier, the Melbourne-based lender said in a regulatory filing Thursday. That compares with a $7.32 billion mean estimate of nine analysts surveyed by Bloomberg.

Slowing profit growth underscores the challenges incoming Chief Executive Officer Shayne Elliott faces amid a focus on boosting Asian returns that have lagged the lender’s domestic units. He will also need to protect margins and mortgage market share in Australia at a time when some economists are predicting a housing slowdown.

“We have continued to see growth in our core customer franchises in Australia, in New Zealand and in key Asian markets, partly offset by the effect of macro-economic headwinds on the International and Institutional Banking Division,” CEO Mike Smith, who relinquishes the role at the end of the year, said in the statement.

Bad-debt charges increased 22 percent to $1.2 billion, the lender said.

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