Australia’s Westpac fails to sell pacific banking business

(Reuters) – Australian lender Westpac said on Wednesday it had cancelled the sale of its Fiji and Papua New Guinea businesses, ending a years-long process that was beset by regulatory problems.

The company has been trying to leave the pacific for years, with its A$420 million ($264.77 million) divestment deal with Kina Securities back in 2021 being blocked by a Papua New Guinea regulator.

“Any failure to successfully divest businesses means that we may have sustained exposure to higher operating costs and to the higher inherent risks in those businesses,” Westpac had told the market during its interim results in May.

The bank would be starting a new brand campaign in the months ahead in both the countries in a move to improve its standing in local markets, Anthony Miller, CEO of Westpac business and wealth division said in a statement.

The company said its pacific business was continuing to see growth along with operational recovery post COVID, which presented Westpac an option to invest in the operations.

($1 = 1.5863 Australian dollars)

(Reporting by Rishav Chatterjee in Bengaluru; Additional Reporting by Ayushman Ojha; Editing by Rashmi Aich)