Do Australia and New Zealand Banking Group’s Asia sales make it a buy?

Fresh from announcing its plans to sell its “Retail and Wealth” businesses in Singapore, Hong Kong, China, Taiwan, and Indonesia to Singapore’s DBS Bank, banking giant Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ASX: ANZ) may be about to offload its minority stakes in banks across Asia.

Under review are its holdings in China-based Shanghai Rural Commercial Bank and Bank of Tianjin, as well as Malaysia’s AmBank, and PT Bank Pan in Indonesia. These holdings are estimated to be worth upwards of $4 billion combined, according to a report in The Australian Financial Review.

ANZ’s head of institutional banking Mark Whelan has revealed that there has been a lot of interest in the assets and he expects the bank to receive a fair price for them.

Whilst this may sound like the bank is giving up on the Asia market, Mr Whelan was quick to call this a reshaping and not a retreat.

This is all part of the bank’s plan to offload non-core assets and switch its focus to running a world class institutional business in the Asia region, which serves key institutional clients connected to the region through trade and capital flows.

The Asian financial markets have proven to be a difficult place for plenty of other businesses such as National Australia Bank Ltd. (ASX: NAB), Insurance Australia Group Ltd (ASX: IAG), and Barclays. Each has had eyes on the Asia market previously, but quickly had to back track.

Only time will tell whether ANZ can make a success of its Asian adventure, but I am hopeful that this reshaping has put the bank in a stronger position now.

I still see ANZ as a good investment option for those with little exposure to the banking sector. Its relatively cheap price, the generous dividend it pays, and its strong balance sheet could make it a buy.

Though I would suggest waiting until its full year results have been announced this week before making a move.

If you're looking for dividends but you're not sure about the banks then look at this fantastic dividend share instead. It could be the perfect share in this low interest environment in my opinion.

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Motley Fool contributor James Mickleboro has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson.

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