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Banking

ANZ says it is back in Asia

The bank has sold most of what it wanted to in the region, but faces some big costs at home.

After several years of telling shareholders and analysts that it is pulling back from Asia, ANZ has now started a revised narrative: that it’s here to stay.

The bank is holding a two-day finance and treasury forum in Singapore designed to reposition it as a thought leader at the heart of the markets.

It seems at odds with three years of headlines about cutbacks, divestments, retrenchments and retreats, but actually the two positions are not incompatible. ANZ still wants out of retail businesses and minority bank stakes in the region, but wants to stick around and grow in institutional banking.

Mark-Whelan-ANZ-160x186
Mark Whelan,
ANZ

“One of the constant frustrations for us is that while we have been shaping the business, many have had the impression we have been exiting Asia,” says Mark Whelan, group executive, institutional, at a briefing ahead of the event. 

“We’re still in 15 countries here and committed to them. We haven’t exited. If anything, we’re expanding.”

ANZ has shifted a lot of what it wanted to – all the old RBS businesses to DBS, a 20% stake in Shanghai Rural Commercial Bank, and most recently the stake in its joint venture in Cambodia to Japan’s J Trust – but there are two stubborn assets still on the books.

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