Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

[Pounds Sterling]15.4m Bad-Debt Shock Adds to HBOS's Australia Worries

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

[Pounds Sterling]15.4m Bad-Debt Shock Adds to HBOS's Australia Worries

Article excerpt

Byline: LACHLAN COLQUHOUN

HBOS's Australian subsidiary BankWest has been stung with a new A$43 million (pound sterling15.4 million) bad debt exposure as its aggressive corporate lending strategy continues to backfire.

BankWest, 55% owned by HBOS, has confirmed it has a A$43 million exposure to domestic copper and gold producer Selwyn Mines, which was put into receivership this week.

The Selwyn exposure is the latest in a series of bad debt problems to have plagued BankWest since the Perth-based bank embarked on a strategy to win more corporate clients and poach business from the major Australian banking players.

A rise in non-performing loans was largely behind a flat 2002 firsthalf-result of A$80 million, with the biggest hits a A$60 million exposure to another failed miner, Pasminco, and a gold project in Tasmania.

BankWest, the Bank of Western Australia, has also become ensnared in the story of fugitive Gold Coast businessman Lux Daswani, who is on the run after his tangled business empire collapsed last year. …

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