By Matt Goss
MELBOURNE, Sept. 14 (Xinhua) -- The Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ANZ) is fully committed to its expansion into Asia, a leading bank executive said.
Despite reports in January that the end of former CEO Mike Smith's tenure would halt the bank's ambitious expansion into Asia, Huang Xiaoguang, CEO of ANZ in China, said the bank clearly recognized the potential of the Asian market.
Huang said that new ANZ CEO, Shayne Elliott, listed the Chinese mainland as one of ANZ's five full service markets alongside Australia, New Zealand, China's Hong Kong and Singapore.
"China has been listed to be a full service market under ANZ's new institutional strategy so I think senior management certainly recognize the importance of China otherwise we couldn't be a full service market," Huang told Xinhua.
A full service bank is one that accepts demand deposits, provides loans and offers other services for the public.
Huang said ANZ's involvement in China at the moment was focused on assisting businesses looking to expand into the Asia Pacific region.
"We are helping Chinese companies go into Asia Pacific, Australia and New Zealand," he said. "We focus on Chinese companies with an Asian ambition where we have a network so we can win if we target the right clients."
"On the other hand we are helping Australian and New Zealand companies invest in China and also we are helping North American and European companies who are ANZ clients over there come into China."
Huang said facilitating trade between Australia and China was so appealing for ANZ because the two economies are well suited to complement one another.
"I feel we can work together a lot because China is still a developing country and Australia is a developed country," he said.
"From a market point of view, I think what China needs Australia can offer and what Australia needs China can offer."
Elliott in February said he was inclined to abandon Smith's plan to derive 25 to 30 percent of ANZ's 2017 earnings from Asia Pacific, Europe and the Americas and would focus on making the best possible profit for the bank rather than aiming for specific targets.
"In hindsight we should have done it differently. But that's life," Elliott told a Fairfax Media publication in February.
"Earning from Asia may be 35 percent or 15 percent - I don't care, so long as the objective is driving value.
"Driving value is not, for the foreseeable future, about expanding and doing more (in Asia) but about refining what we already have. That, inevitably, means slimming down. It may be that the Asia business ends up a little bit smaller."
ANZ announced a 2-billion-U.S. dollar profit for the first half of the financial year in May, down 22 percent on the 2.65 billion U.S. dollar reported at the same time in 2015.