Australia’s Westpac reports 12 percent net profit growth

SYDNEY, October 30, 2008 (AFP) – Australia’s Westpac Banking Group announced Thursday that its annual net profit rose 12 percent, driven by strong deposit and lending growth. Net profit for the year ended September 30 rose to 3.86 billion dollars (2.58 billion US) from 3.45 billion dollars the previous year, the bank said in a statement.

Westpac has made an 18 billion dollar bid for Australia’s fifth-largest lender St George Bank Ltd., which on Wednesday reported a record annual cash profit of 1.32 billion dollars, up 13.9 percent on the previous year.

Australia’s banks have largely escaped the worst of the fallout from the global credit crisis.

“Westpac has performed well through the global financial crisis with its proactive management of funding, conservative risk profile and healthy capital position,” said chief executive Gail Kelly.

“This result shows the strength and resilience of our franchise and our ability to support our customers as demonstrated through strong volume growth and increased market share,” she said.

Revenue rose 12.3 percent to 11.4 billion dollars.