In response to the exceptional drought circumstances affecting all Australian states, Westpac has today announced it is extending its support to customers under a new Drought Assistance Package.
Westpac national agribusiness manager Steve Hannan (right) said the bank has committed $100 million to lend exclusively to eligible drought-affected customers to help them through these challenging times.
“Of all the challenges that farmers face, drought is one of the most difficult,” Mr Hannan said.
“We have a deep commitment to supporting rural and regional Australia and know that times like these can be extremely tough.
“This is the first time in Westpac’s 200 year history that we have set aside such an amount to provide immediate and long-term financial relief to our agribusiness customers.”
Westpac Group’s Drought Assistance Package announced today includes a number of measures designed to support its Agribusiness customers:
The creation of a $100 million fund to provide carry on finance loans of up to $1 million to existing eligible Westpac Group agribusiness customers at a heavily-discounted variable interest rate1;
Giving drought-impacted customers the option to defer principal and interest repayments on existing business term loans and equipment finance for up to 12 months2 ; and
Offering an interest adjustment for customers with Farm Management Deposit (FMD) to effectively offset FMD balances against their eligible business loans3.
The Drought Assistance Package complements Westpac’s recent combined $200,000 donation to the Salvation Army Rural Support Services Program, and Community Recovery Resilience grants.
Westpac Agribusiness has expanded its national team by 15 per cent this year and continues to offer a range of practical solutions that can provide immediate financial relief to eligible customers, such as deferring loan repayments and restructuring existing loans without charging application fees.
“By offering this personalised support to our customers, we look to give them confidence and certainty so they can focus on more critical issues like looking after their loved ones and keeping their businesses running,” Mr Hannan said.
Mr Hannan said Westpac Agribusiness is proactively contacting drought-affected customers and encourages those experiencing financial difficulties to contact their Relationship Manager for a confidential review to understand the financial options available to them.
Westpac Group is also encouraging its employees to give generously to the Salvation Army and other registered drought-related charities, and will match employee donations to eligible Australian charities through its Matching Gifts program. Westpac branches are also supporting public donations.
Source: Westpac Group
1. Business Loan terms of up to 3 years at a customer group level. 2 During the 12 month deferment of interest repayments, interest will continue to be applied to the loan balance. 3. The interest adjustment will be applied to those customers who accept the offer and will be calculated for the current financial year based on the relative balances of the farm management deposit and the eligible business loans.