SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australia’s Westpac Banking Corp WBC.AX is exiting banking operations in China and some other Asian markets to focus on its core domestic and New Zealand businesses, as it grapples with capital constraints amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
An office building with Westpac logo is seen amidst the easing of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) restrictions in the Central Business District of Sydney, Australia, June 3, 2020.
Following a failed big push to Asia under its previous CEO, Westpac’s rival Australia and New Zealand Banking Corp ANZ.AX in 2016 exited operations in Singapore, Hong Kong, Vietnam and Taiwan.
“These are the actions of a bank that is capital-constrained,” said Brian Johnson, senior banking analyst at Jefferies in Sydney.
The bank’s move comes as relations between Australia and China continue to sour, following Australia’s call for an independent inquiry into the origins of the novel coronavirus – which first emerged in China.