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Levy could reduce bank profits by 4.5%

By Tim Stewart
3 minute read

The new bank levy in Tuesday’s federal budget could reduce the earnings of the largest five banks by 4.5 per cent, according to Morgan Stanley.

Tuesday night's federal budget unveiled a new 6 basis point levy on the assessed liabilities of the four major banks and Macquarie.

The levy, which will be annualised over the next four financial years, is expected to raise approximately $1.5 billion to $1.6 billion each year for four years, according to analysis by Morgan Stanley analysts.

The levy equates to approximately 4.5 per cent of the combined annual profits of the four major banks and Macquarie, said the note.


"We estimate it would reduce our FY2018 earnings by approximately 4 per cent at CBA, WBC and MQG and by approximately 5 per cent at ANZ and NAB," said Morgan Stanley.

However, the banks are highly likely to use their "oligopoly pricing power in retail banking" to pass on the cost of the levy to deposit holders and mortgagors, said the note.

Morgan Stanley said the four major banks could offset the impact of the levy on their profits by raising home loan standard variable rates by approximately 20 basis points.

Three of the big four banks have already indicated a willingness to pass on the levy to their customers.

In a statement on the proposed levy, CBA chief executive Ian Narev said that "as every business owner or employee knows, every extra cost needs to be borne by customers or shareholders, or a combination of both".

Westpac chief executive Brian Hartzer said, "There is no ‘magic pudding’. The cost of any new tax is ultimately borne by shareholders, borrowers, depositors and employees".

NAB chief executive Andrew Thorburn said the levy "is not just a tax on a bank ... it is also a tax on ... the 10 million NAB customers – depositors and borrowers".

An ANZ statement said it was "too early to provide a definitive estimate of the financial impact on ANZ", adding that an update will be provided to the market when ANZ's analysis is complete.

Macquarie also said the impact of the levy on the bank's balance sheet is "unclear" at this stage.

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