Best Bank: ANZ
The big four Australian banks present a study in contrasts. The two with the biggest franchises, Commonwealth Bank and National Australia Bank, are both in the middle of intelligent restructuring programmes with big ambitions but have yet to bed them down. The other two, Westpac and ANZ, have emerged from restructuring and are lean and well run but without quite the same domestic reach. The pick of the bunch is ANZ. Although not the outright largest of Australian banks, it has A$335 billion ($283.6 billion) of assets and 781 branches and is in the best condition. Net profit, revenue growth (adjusted for exchange rates), cash earnings per share and dividend all grew by double-digit percentages in the first half of the 2007 financial year. Fund managers like the way the bank has de-risked its business lending book over the past decade; SRI managers particularly like the bank’s relationships with its staff, rated highest among its peers by the Financial Services Union.