(Adds details from APRA, Westpac)
By Renju Jose and Lewis Jackson
SYDNEY, March 28 (Reuters) – The head of Australia’s prudential regulator said on Tuesday the country’s banks were among the best placed in the world to handle a financial crisis, following the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) that roiled international markets.
The differences between regulatory requirements for Australian banks versus many overseas jurisdictions “give us confidence that the banking system here is among the best equipped in the world to handle a crisis,” John Lonsdale, the chair of the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA), said in speech to the Australian Financial Review’s Banking Summit.
“They don’t, however, make us complacent or blind to the potential impact overseas events can have on financial stability here,” he added.
Australian banks did not suffer as much as those in the U.S. and Britain during the 2008 global financial crisis, thanks in part to tighter lending standards and a more resilient economy.
The collapse of SVB this month triggered the worst banking shock since 2008, sending bank stocks globally on a wild ride and raising fears of systemic stress that could lead to more bank failures.
The speed at which the crisis unfolded suggested regulators no longer had days or weeks to debate and plan considered responses, Lonsdale said.
Westpac Banking Corp Chief Executive Officer Peter King told the conference that the Australian banking industry was unlikely to experience a similar shock to the SVB collapse given the U.S. bank’s loan book was concentrated on too many high-risk assets.
“They took a pretty big punt on interest rates and they got it wrong,” he said. (Reporting by Renju Jose, Lewis Jackson and Byron Kaye in Sydney; Writing by Alasdair Pal; Editing by Jamie Freed)