Nov 6 (Reuters) - Australia's Westpac Banking Corp (WBC.AX) on Monday posted a 26% rise in annual profits, helped by growth across key markets, though the lender warned of operational challenges would continue into fiscal 2024.
Westpac also said it had started an A$1.5 billion ($975.60 million) share buy-back.
The company said it had reaped the benefits of operational improvements and growth in its key markets, including deposits, mortgages and institutional banking.
A rapid surge in interest rates since May last year has benefited Australian lenders' margins significantly, however, intense competition in the mortgage market, slowing credit growth and concerns over rising bad debt have emerged as headwinds.
Westpac, the country's fourth-largest lender in terms of market value, reported net profit attributable of A$7.20 billion for the year ended Sept. 30, compared with A$5.69 billion last year. That missed an LSEG estimate of A$7.41 billion.
It declared a final dividend of 72 Australian cents per share, up from 64 Australian cents a year earlier.
($1 = 1.5373 Australian dollars)
Reporting by Roushni Nair and Upasana Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Andrew Heavens
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