Australia’s Westpac mulls paying back investors, flags lower margins By Reuters

© Reuters. Pedestrians walk past the ground floor of an office building with Westpac logo amidst the easing of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) restrictions in the Central Business District of Sydney, Australia, June 3, 2020. REUTERS/Loren Elliott/Files

(Reuters) – Westpac Banking (NYSE:) Corp said on Tuesday it would consider returning capital to shareholders as Australia’s post-pandemic economic rebound allows its big banks to return some of their record levels of cash.

The bank did not disclose a profit for the third quarter, but reiterated its expectation of lower margins for the second half and higher expenses for fiscal 2021.

Australia’s early control of the pandemic in 2020 drove property prices and credit growth higher, leaving the “big four” banks flush with excess cash.

Westpac has also been divesting assets to cut costs and focus on core operations.

The lender said it would provide an update on its plans to return capital with its full-year results, without giving more details.

Rival Commonwealth Bank of Australia (OTC:) last week announced a record A$6 billion ($4.4 billion) buyback, while National Australia Bank (OTC:) and Australia and New Zealand Banking Group have also laid out repurchase plans.

Westpac said its common equity tier 1 ratio, a closely watched measure of spare cash, was at 12% as of end-June compared with 12.3% at end-March.

($1 = 1.3633 Australian dollars)

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