Westpac finalises global revamp plans

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(First Edition)

WESTPAC, the Australian banking group, said it had finalised plans for the strategic redirection of its global institutional banking activities.

The bank's institutional banking group will now concentrate on its corporate banking franchises and its global financial markets operation in Australia, New Zealand, America, Europe, Japan, Hong Kong and Singapore.

As part of the Bank's overall recovery program the bank will focus on its core business in these regions, said Robert Joss, the managing director.

'We believe our global strategy should be to concentrate on those businesses in which we have a clear competitive advantage and which offer significant prospects for growth,' he said.

The bank said its focus would now be on Australian corporate relationships both in and outside Australia, foreign-based corporations and institutions with whom the Bank conducts a valued relationship in Australia and New Zealand, and global banks which are valued counter-parties in the financial markets. It will also focus on Institutional investors active in the foreign exchange and securities markets.

Westpac said it will sell the business of its subsidiary, Australian Guarantee Corporation, in Indonesia, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Thailand and divest its interests in Singapore and Malaysia.

'The bank and AGC businesses in these markets have been profitable, but are not central to supporting our customer and market objectives in Asia. The Bank and AGC will now focus on opportunities in their home markets,' Mr Joss said.

He said the group's businesses in Asia will continue to operate as going concerns and will write new business as usual.