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CUT TO VICTORY. Australia’s big four banks are too dominant to be major acquirers. That’s not stopping A$95 billion ($73 billion) Westpac (WBC.AX) from cherry-picking one element of the M&A playbook. On Monday the country’s second-largest lender unveiled, along with decent first-half earnings, a plan to slash annual expenses by a cool 21% of the total. Usually only a merger generates that kind of figure.
There’s some corporate finance at work: Chief Executive Peter King hopes to get around a third of the savings from selling seven unwanted businesses, including general insurance and auto finance. The rest comes from closing branches or moving them to smaller premises as digital banking expands, and from shrinking head office.
The savings should be worth almost A$14 billion to shareholders, once taxed and capitalised. Westpac’s stock rose more than 4% by lunchtime trading, adding just over A$4 billion in value. With almost three years until the target is supposed to be hit, shareholders aren’t giving King the benefit of the doubt. (Antony Currie)
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Earlier in Capital Calls:
Reliance spotlights a troubled consumer read more
UK is late arrival on SPAC launchpad read more
EU music probe will ring in Apple’s ears read more
Darktrace’s IPO pop is deceptive read more
World’s back office is suddenly front of mind read more
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