(MENAFN - AFP) Australian banking giant Westpac Monday posted a 15 percent slump in full-year net profit, but said momentum picked up in the second half and trumpeted a strong result in a difficult environment.
The result in the 12 months to September 30 came in at Aus5.97 billion (US6.17 billion), compared to Aus6.99 billion the previous year.
Australia's second largest bank by market capitalisation said the profit slide was largely due to the tax implications of its takeover of smaller rival St George.
A one-off benefit from a tax consolidation related to the takeover pushed last year's profit higher.
While net profit was down, its cash earnings -- the bank's preferred measure which strips out volatile items -- were up five percent at Aus6.59 billion compared to the previous year, slightly above analyst expectations.
Chief executive Gail Kelly said it was "a strong result in a lower growth economic environment".
"We have strengthened our balance sheet while delivering attractive returns to shareholders and investing for future growth," she said.
"Our performance, particularly in the second half, demonstrates that we have increasing momentum across our businesses.
"Our disciplined approach to productivity has improved customer service and increased efficiency. Importantly, we continue to be the most efficient Australian bank, with an expense to income ratio down to 40.8 percent."
Kelly said the highlight was the strong performance of the new Australian Financial Services division, which includes the Australian retail banking, business banking and wealth operations.
Cash earnings from that arm were higher than the previous year, up 14 percent to Aus2.1 billion as deposits and loans grew.