National Australia Bank breaks profit record, plans headcount drop

National Australia Bank lifts cash profit to $6.642 billion            
    
              
     
     
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Since taking over as chief executive in late 2014, Andrew Thorburn has spun off and listed CYBG PLC (CYBG.LN), a company housing Clydesdale and Yorkshire Bank in the United Kingdom, sold an 80% stake in its insurance arm and also listed regional USA lender Great Western Bancorp Inc.

Profit is $6.6 billion, up 2.5% compared to previous year.

The bank this morning posted a statutory net profit of $5.3 billion for FY17, with cash earnings up 2.5 per cent to $6.6 billion.

It flagged restructuring charges of A$500 million to A$800 million in the first half of fiscal 2018, and a spike in expenses of between 5 percent and 8 percent over the year.

"Having said that, we're hiring 2,000 people with different capabilities: data scientists, AI, robotics, automation, technology people, digital people, so the net will be 4,000 and that's just a reshaping that's going to happen".

Julia Angrisano, national secretary of the Finance Sector Union of Australia, said employees were paying the price for cost controls.

NAB said the results were "consistent" while it equally matched some analysts' expectations.

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"This involves an estimated $1.5 billion increase in investment by the end of FY20 to further improve the experience for our customers, reshape our workforce and grow our bank", he said.

That makes a steady full year payout of $1.98 a share and follows the decision by the ANZ next week to leave its dividends unchanged for the final half and full year.

NAB's positive outlook contrasts with that of rival Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Ltd, which has said finding revenue growth was getting harder.

At the close of the market in Sydney, NAB shares were down 2.8% at A$31.95.

NAB's net profit of $5.3 billion saw a large rebound from 2016's $352 million, which was affected by the sale of its ill-fated United Kingdom banking business in January 2016.

'We've come from a position of strength and now we look out three-to-five years and we want to lay out that plan, ' he said.

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