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ANZ Bank to Focus on Organic Growth in Asia, Plante Says

Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd., the most Asia-focused of Australia’s four largest lenders, said it will seek to expand existing operations in the region instead of targeting new acquisitions.

“On an organic basis, there are plenty of opportunities for us to grow,” Gilles Plante, the bank’s Asia-Pacific chief executive officer, said in an interview with Bloomberg Television today. “So our path is to focus on organic opportunities.”

ANZ Bank will selectively add staff in Asia in businesses such as trade finance and foreign exchange where it sees growth, he said.

The nation’s third-largest bank by market value is seeking to earn as much as 30 percent of profit from outside Australia and New Zealand by 2017. It agreed in 2009 to pay about $550 million for Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc’s units in six Asian countries and is courting savings and demand for credit in the region as loan growth at home slows.

Tighter capital requirements for banks are restricting funds available for acquisitions of minority stakes in other lenders. While under so-called Basel III rules banks are allowed a 10 percent allowance for minority investments in other financial institutions, the Australian Prudential Regulatory Authority has proposed to disallow the concession.

ANZ shares closed 0.4 percent higher at A$25.36 in Sydney, compared with a 0.5 percent gain for the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index.

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