(Bloomberg) -- Bank of Queensland Ltd. has become the first Australian bank to delay its dividend after the prudential regulator told lenders to reduce payouts during the coronavirus crisis.
The Brisbane-based bank said Wednesday it would defer a decision on its first-half dividend until the economic outlook is clearer and stress-testing results have been discussed with the regulator.
It’s the first of the nation’s banks to report this earnings season, with Macquarie Group Ltd., Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd., Westpac Banking Corp. and National Australia Bank Ltd. all due to release earnings in late April or early May.
Bank stocks are widely held by retail investors for their steady stream of dividend payouts. A reduction or deferment of payments will be a further hit to an economy heading for its first recession in 30 years as the virus shuts down larges swathes of the nation.
Read more: Westpac, National Australia, ANZ Bank to Slash Dividends: Citi
While other global regulators have ordered their banks to scrap dividends entirely, the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority initially said it is ultimately a decision for boards. In a statement late Tuesday though, the regulator made clear it expected both dividends and executive bonuses to be cut.
“Bank of Queensland understands the impact of this decision on shareholders, however also acknowledges this guidance as a prudent step for the industry,” Chairman Patrick Allaway said in a statement.
For more on Bank of Queensland’s first-half earnings, click here.
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