Chase Sells Its Half-Interest In Australian Retail Bank

Chase Manhattan Corp. continued its international retrenchment Wednesday by selling its 50% interest in an Australian consumer bank to Westpac Banking Corp.

The announcement came only a day after Chase said it would sell its Spanish banking unit to Caixa Geral de Depositos of Portugal.

Westpac will pay Chase $24 million for the stake in Chase AMP Ltd.

Insurer Keeping Its Half

The other 50% is being retained by the Australian Mutual Provident Society, the country's largest insurance company, which has entered into a strategic alliance with Westpac.

Chase's divestiture is part of a restructuring aimed at cutting 5,000 jobs and $300 million in annual operating expenses before the end of June, several months ahead of the bank's original schedule.

During 1990, Chase trimmed its assets to $98 billion from $107 billion. International assets declined 16% last year to $26 billion, while domestic assets fell 6% to $72 billion.

The company has sold its United Kingdom credit card and residential mortgage portfolio, investment management operations in New York, and its 16-story German headquarters in Frankfurt. It has also merged its domestic and international private banks and trimmed or closed trading operations in London, Tokyo and Zurich.

"Our philosophy is to stay in places where we can make an impact on market," a Chase spokesman said.

After the sale of Chase AMP, which has $3 billion in assets and eight branches, Chase said it would continue its corporate lending, foreign exchange, trade finance, and securities custody business in Australia.

Chase AMP was badly hurt by Australia's steep recession; it lost $120 million last year.

The sale of Chase AMP marks a sharp break with statements by bank officials last year that they remained "committed" to the unit. Chase provided $31 million in fresh capital last year and fired 75 employees in an effort to restore profitability.

Subscribe Now

Access to authoritative analysis and perspective and our data-driven report series.

14-Day Free Trial

No credit card required. Complete access to articles, breaking news and industry data.