Westpac exertion feeds a cash craving

Westpac’s special dividend marks the end of a period of foundation strengthening. Now progress will depend on productivity gains and selectively targeted growth areas, and could bring some tensions.

In the context of earnings of $3.5 billion in a half-year, Westpac’s "modest" 10 cents a share special dividend isn’t of particular consequence. It does, however, say something about the point Westpac has reached in a now well-established strategy and also about the sharemarket environment within which it is operating.

After an initial dash for growth in the aftermath of the financial crisis Gail Kelly has in recent years focused steadfastly on shoring up the group’s fundamentals – its capital, its funding and its liquidity.

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