June 29, 2018 / 6:21 AM / 19 days ago

Australia's ANZ expects difficult trading conditions to continue: chairman

(Reuters) - Australian No. 3 lender Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Ltd (ANZ.AX) said on Friday it expects difficult trading conditions to continue in the foreseeable future, sending its shares down.

FILE PHOTO: A pedestrian is reflected in the window of a branch of the Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ANZ) in central Sydney, Australia October 25, 2017. REUTERS/Steven Saphore/File Photo

Regulators of the world’s 14th largest economy have told banks to keep higher cash reserves in relation to their loan books and cut their interest-only loans, prompting banks to raise interest rates and sell non-core assets.

A damaging public inquiry into financial sector misconduct has meanwhile seen investors wipe out A$32 billion from the market capitalization of Australia’s biggest money managers, piling on additional pressure to exit non-essential businesses.

In another headache for ANZ, Australian authorities have charged it and former treasurer Rick Moscati, among others, with “criminal cartel offences” over a $2.3 billion stock issue, one of the country’s biggest cases of alleged white-collar crime.

“We expect the difficult trading conditions to continue into the foreseeable future and this reinforces (that) our strategy to simplify our business remains appropriate for the times,” ANZ Chairman David Gonski wrote to shareholders on Friday.

“The difficult trading conditions impacting institutional banking globally persisted during the half and we continue to rebalance our portfolio by focusing on customers that value our differentiated international network,” he added.

ANZ shares were trading down 0.7 percent but fell after the trading update to close down 1.5 percent down, while the broader market closed down 0.3 percent.

Reporting by Aditya Soni in Bengaluru; Editing by Byron Kaye and Sunil Nair

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