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Australia’s Big Four Banks’ Shares Fall as Regulators Request Dividend Deferral

By Gina Lee - Australia’s “Big Four” banks saw their shares fall on Wednesday as regulators urged them to defer dividend payments.

The Australian  Prudential (LON:PRU) Regulation Authority asked banks and insurers on Tuesday to consider deferring dividend payments until the economic impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic were better understood.

Commonwealth Bank Of Australia (ASX:CBA), Westpac Banking Corp (ASX:WBC), National Australia Bank Ltd (ASX:NAB) and ANZ Banking Group (ASX:ANZ) all saw their shares slide in the aftermath of the announcement.

NAB saw the biggest slide as its shares tumbled 3.94% by 12:45 AM ET (5:45 AM GMT). Westpac shares lost 3.05%, ANZ saw its Australian shares fall 2.87% and CBA shares fell 1.74%.

Westpac is yet to decide regarding its interim dividend, while National Australia Bank said it will take the regulator’s request into account when considering its dividend for the first half year.

The move follows a similar request from the APRA’s U.K. counterpart on April 1, causing similar falls in HBSC and Standard Chartered’s Hong Kong shares.

APRA also announced that it would suspend the issuance of new banking, insurance and superannuation licenses for six months due to COVID-19 uncertainties.

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