SYDNEY, Australia -- Westpac Banking Corp. said it lost the equivalent of $ 1.27 billion in its fiscal half, which ended March 31. A year earlier, Westpac, the No 1 bank in Australia, had a profit of $ 166 million.

The bank also announced a 3-for-10 renounceable rights issue to raise $ 912 million.

Substantial increases in provisions for problem loans resulted in the loss, Westpac said. The company has revalued all problem real estate assets to current market value.

The total charge for bad debts and provisions more than quadrupled, to $ 2.01 billion.

Frank Conroy, Westpac's managing director, said directors expect the group "to be profitable in the second half and don't foresee the need for provisioning of this magnitude again."

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