UK losses hurt Aussie bank owner

National Australia BankNational Australia Bank, one of the country's largest lenders, has reported a 15.5% drop in first-half net profits, hurt by the poor performance of its UK operations.

Net profit for the six months to March 31 was 2.1 billion Australian dollars (£1.3 billion), down from 2.4 billion (£1.5 billion) in the same period a year ago, the Melbourne-based bank said. Cash earnings were 2.8 billion dollars (£1.7 billion), up 6% from 2.7 billion (£1.6 billion) in the previous corresponding period.
Last month, the bank said it was restructuring its struggling British operations to prevent additional damage to its bottom line. The Clydesdale and Yorkshire banks are to cut 1,400 jobs by 2015.

The UK division posted a net profit loss of 36 million dollars (£22.3 million) in the first half, down from a 122 million (£75.7 million) profit in the same period a year ago.

"Revenue momentum, sound cost management and strong capital generation were key features of the group's half-year performance," chief executive Cameron Clyne said.

"This was despite a challenging operating environment characterised by higher funding costs and subdued credit growth across all markets, and particularly difficult economic conditions in the UK."

The bank declared an interim dividend of 90 cents a share, up from 84 cents a year earlier.

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