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ANZ chairman positive on global economy


ANZ's chairman John Morschel says the bank is increasingly confident that global economic growth will pick up moderately over the next two years.

Much of it will be driven by an expected seven per cent growth this year and next in China - and, that aligns well with the bank's key strategy of pursuing business in Asia, he says.

"After five years of turbulence following the global financial crisis, the economic outlook is more settled, with the global economy growing at a moderate although uneven pace," he told shareholders at the company's annual general meeting in Brisbane on Wednesday.

"The outlook in the US is improving; the Euro zone's economic recovery remains patchy; and Japan's economic recovery is underway, although not without set-backs."

In Australia, the non-resource sectors were slowly making up for the slowdown in mining investment, he said. And, New Zealand looked increasingly positive.

He said Australia's position was being helped by a lower dollar and supportive monetary policy.

ANZ recently reported a record full year profit of $6.5 billion and lifted dividends by 13 per cent, paying out $4.5 billion.

It also reiterated its expectation of generating 25-30 per cent of earnings from Asia by 2017.

Chief executive Mike Smith on Wednesday defended the bank's aggressive push into Asia.

"The opportunity created by Asia's growth and our customers' growing business and personal connections with Asia are actually integrated into every part of our business," he said.

The bank, Australia's third largest by market capitalisation, announced that the architect of the Gillard government's school funding reforms, David Gonski, will take over as chairman next year.

Mr Gonski will join the bank's board in February and replace Mr Morschel in May.

He will step down as chairman of the federal government's Future Fund but continue in other roles including chairman of Coca-Cola Amatil, director of Singapore Telecommunications and chancellor of the University of NSW.

The appointment is one of four board changes at ANZ amid reports that major shareholders are keen for renewal and more Asian experience.

The AGM was dominated by questions from anti-coal activists questioning the bank's funding of miners including Whitehaven Coal.