Westpac in Asian retail banking retreat

Australian bank Westpac has begun quietly letting staff go across its Asian operations, with its Shanghai office closed down and 40 jobs lost.

The bank is believed to be retreating from the market at the behest of new CEO Brian Hartzer, who wants a departure from the regional strategies of his predecessor. Insiders told Australian Financial Review that the decision was made due to a tightening of mortgage lending standards for foreign buyers in Australia and the general difficulty of making profits from retail banking in Asia.

The move mirrors one made by ANZ earlier this year, which is set to sell its retail banking operations in no less than five Asian countries to DBS Bank, losing $201 million in the process

“We have reviewed the business [in Asia] and made changes to a small number of roles in response to market conditions,” said a spokesperson for the bank.

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