WESTPAC BANK REPORTS $16 MILLION PROFIT IN FIJI

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SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, Feb. 3) – Australia-based Westpac Bank says it will continue its investments in Fiji, working to improve its services and refurbish its branches.

The announcement was made by the bank’s chief manager, David Evans, after revealing that the bank made a post-tax profit of $26.6 million (US$16 million) to September 30 last year.

The bank will introduce a more efficient international money transfer service in conjunction with Moneygram and further expand their ATM and EFTPOS network.

"Westpac will continue to develop value based products and services, including low cost banking options to the Fiji community," Evans said. "Westpac's commitment to the community and economy of Fiji will continue to be a key consideration in the strategies we undertake in coming years."

Westpac operates in Australia and New Zealand and in seven Pacific island nations, including Cook Islands, Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu.

Evans said all segments of the business improved over the previous year, further strengthening the robustness and resilience of the bank's earnings.

He attributed the year's results to a strong sales and service culture, prudent management of operating expenses, streamlining of the back office processes and the ongoing support of the bank's business and personal customers.

In 2004, the bank continued to centralize back office processes and provide regional support for the bank's network in other neighboring islands.

Evans said the additional responsibility was handled smoothly with local staff now providing service support to other Westpac locations in the Pacific region.

"Westpac will continue to deliver value to customers and shareholders and provide significant ongoing contributions to the community and the economy," he said.

Key highlights of the 2004 result compared to 2003 were:

"Our customers deserve a superior level of flexibility and banking solutions," Evans said. "Our focus will be towards improving our level of service to customers and increasing the range of products and services we offer to better meet the changing needs of the Fiji market."

February 4, 2005

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