Christmas bonuses cancelled at the ANZ Bank

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The Christmas bonus at the ANZ Bank, in the form of $1000 in shares for employees who’ve been there at least three years, has been cancelled.

The shares normally arrive the first week in December but the bank decided against it this year after posting weak profits and cutting shareholder dividends. A final fully franked dividend of 80 cents a share was declared in November for a full year amount of 160 cents, a drop of 12%.

The big four banks are suffering from a slowing in revenue growth, smaller margins and more bad loans. They delivered combined 2016 cash profit of $29.6 billion, a decrease of 2.5% on last year, breaking a run of record profits since the GFC.

According to the ANZ’s latest annual report, the bank paid out $17.28 million in Christmas share bonuses in 2016 and $20.49 million the year before.

“Most permanent employees who have had continuous service for three years are eligible to participate in the Employee Share Offer enabling the grant of up to AUD1,000 of ANZ shares in each financial year, subject to approval of the Board,” the ANZ says in its annual report.

In the 12 months since, staff numbers have been cut by 3% to 8864. They are paid a combined $5.24 billion.

Shayne Elliott, who became CEO on January 1 this year, told Reuters in an interview that the bonus shares were “intended to share the benefit of good years”. He said: “It was not a good year.”

Elliott currently holds 66,482 unvested deferred shares and 282,483 unvested performance rights. These are worth almost $10 million at today’s share price of $28.60.

His base pay was $1.72 million in 2016 but his total pay, including shares, came to $5.07 million, up from $4.76 million in 2015.

Staff were told about the cut to the bonus in a message posted to the company’s intranet, according to a report by Bloomberg.

A spokesman for the ANZ Bank told Business Insider: “Important to note this is not a Christmas bonus and is additional to usual annual performance bonuses.”

The bank says the share offers were never guaranteed.

“Future share offers will continue to be subject to the ANZ board’s approval which is based on their assessment of overall company performance,” the spokesman says.

Employees covered by an enterprise agreement had a 3.25% pay rise this year.

The bank posted an 18% fall in cash profit to $5.9 billion for 2016. The result included $1.077 billion of after tax charges, including restructuring and the cost of software.

The bank is cutting operating costs, exiting low return and non-core businesses and reducing reliance on low-returning parts of institutional banking.