ANZ official downplays Asia fears

Senior Asia-based ANZ banker says Aust banks not at risk in Asia.

A senior Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Ltd (ANZ) banker in Asia has downplayed concerns that Asian economic uncertainty could leave Australian banks holding a heavy burden of bad debts, according to The Australian.

ANZ's global head of transaction banking, Sameer Sawhney, told the newspaper that concerns about slowing Asian growth have been overplayed and that banks operating in the region can absorb the withdrawal of "easy liquidity" from the region.

"I haven't seen any big challenges coming through in our portfolio or what we have in the market," Mr Sawhney told The Australian.

"Most of the sectors which have a longer-term advantage will continue to grow, some at maybe a healthier pace than others, but overall consumption continues to grow, infrastructure build still remains a priority for all the countries so we are bullish."

Mr Sawhney's perspective would be closely-watched amongst Australian bankers as ANZ has the largest Asian exposure of all Australian banks. ANZ has forecast that Asia will supply 25-30% of its total earnings by 2017, which would be a sharp rise from the current level of about 15%.

Mr Sawhney's comments downplaying concerns about Asia came as the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) said concerns in Asia revolved around "higher yields and depreciating exchange rates on inflation and financial stability".