MELBOURNE, Feb 12, 2016:

Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ANZ) failed to see that some Asian nations would grow hostile to foreign banks after the 2008 financial crisis, which stymied its growth in the region, the bank’s chief executive said in a newspaper interview today.

“In hindsight we should have done it differently,” new CEO Shayne Elliott was quoted saying in the Australian Financial Review.

Elliott has put deputy chief executive Graham Hodges in charge of selling the bank’s minority stakes in banks in Indonesia, Malaysia and China.

Elliott said the value of the partnerships is “less than they used to be” as ANZ has its own brands in those countries.

ANZ, Australia’s fourth-largest bank, is the only one of the big four to have made a big push into Asia, with its previous chief executive Mike Smith having set a target to derive 25-30% of the group’s 2017 earnings from offshore.

Elliott said he would focus not on hitting a specific earnings target for Asia but on returns from the bank’s network in the region and winning more market in Australia.

“Earnings from Asia may be 35% or 15% – I don’t care, so long as the objective is driving value,” he said. “It may be that the Asia business ends up a little bit smaller.”

Although the bank has built a solid footprint in Asia, returns in the business have been low due to cut-throat local competition, which has sparked criticism of its regional strategy from investors.

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