Australia's NAB H1 profits down 15.5%

National Australia Bank announced a 15.5 percent slump in first-half net profit Thursday due to a poor performance at its embattled British operations.

Australia's fourth biggest lender booked a profit of Aus$2.05 billion (US$2.06 billion) for the six months to March 31, down from Aus$2.43 billion a year earlier.

Cash earnings, which strip out volatile items, increased 6.0 percent to Aus$2.83 billion over the same period.

The major drag was the bank's British operations which posted a loss of Aus$36 million, down from a $122 million profit in the previous corresponding period.

Last month, NAB said it planned to restructure its struggling British arm, slashing more than 1,400 jobs by 2015.

At the time, the lender said it had booked writedowns and restructuring charges at the division worth a combined 456 million pounds (US$736 million).

Chief executive Cameron Clyne said the bank was continuing to make progress in transforming the way it did business.

"The Australian franchise continued to perform well and market share was further strengthened during the period, despite an increasingly competitive environment," he said.

"Revenue momentum, sound cost management, and strong capital generation were key features of the group's half-year performance.

"This was despite a challenging operating environment characterised by higher funding costs and subdued credit growth across all markets, and particularly difficult economic conditions in the UK."

NAB declared a dividend of 90 cents, up from 84 cents for the same period in the previous year.

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