SYDNEY, Australia (ABC News Online, Oct. 24) - The head of the ANZ Bank says its purchase of the National Bank of New Zealand will create the leading bank in the Asia-Pacific region.

ANZ is buying the National Bank of New Zealand from British bank Lloyd's TSB for $4.9 billion.

"With this acquisition, ANZ is now the leading bank in New Zealand, the leading bank in the South Pacific, the leading Australian bank in Asia and, not yet in Australia, but with leading positions in Australia," ANZ Bank chief executive officer John McFarlane said in Wellington in New Zealand.

Part of the funding will come from a $3.6 billion rights issue, with shares being offered to ANZ shareholders at a discount price of $13.

"So this is a very different kind of acquisition, it's different for customers," he said.

"We end up with two brands, with two networks with two names and we'll bring the best of both to serve our customers."

The ANZ has also announced a record annual profit of $2.3 billion, up more than 9 per cent on last year's result and has allowed a final fully-franked dividend to shareholders of 51 cents a share.

Mr McFarlane says significant challenges are posed by low interest rates and the associated margin pressure, the rising Australian dollar and softness in the international economy

October 27, 2003

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