Chairman`s AGM Address to Shareholders
Fri 15 Dec 2000
Published: Fri 15 Dec 2000 11:21:55
Document No: 171316
Document part: B
Market Flag: N
Classification: Chairman's Address to Shareholders
AUSTRALIA & NEW ZEALAND BANKING GROUP LI 2000-12-15 ASX-SIGNAL-G HOMEX - Melbourne +++++++++++++++++++++++++ CEO's ADDRESS I'm sure you can see we are pursuing a distinctive strategy which is now starting to set us apart from the other banks, and which has already begun to find favour with the market. OUTLOOK I would like now to conclude with the outlook for the year ahead. The high, sustained levels of growth that Australia has experienced for much of the 1990's reflect favourable world economic conditions but are also a tribute to good economic management and the adaptability of the Australian people. The upswing in the world economy, which began at the end of 1998, is now easing. Global growth is expected to slow in 2001 under the lagged impact of the higher oil prices and higher interest rates and the possibility of weaker equity markets. While we expect Australia to experience solid export demand and continued public spending, the national economy will not be immune to a slowdown in global economic conditions. However, against this background, there is the prospect that interest rates may have peaked and the currency appears to be regaining lost ground. In contrast, the New Zealand economy is showing signs of recovery, although with a currency driven surge in prices, the risk of a further tightening in monetary policy remains. In this overall environment the Bank expects reasonable asset growth, although at reduced levels from those experienced in 2000. Interest margins are expected to continue to be under pressure, but bad debt experience in our domestic markets should remain moderate. Accordingly, we will continue to focus on growing revenue, holding our costs steady and reducing the risk profile of the business. Your Directors are very encouraged by the momentum and excitement at ANZ. Over the past two years our management has met market expectations on earnings per share while at the same time making investments for growth in the future. The challenge is to continue this performance in a more subdued environment and our plans going forward have been designed to achieve this.