NAB's rates hike sparks controversy

by Caroline Dann25 Jul 2012

Speculation over NAB's motivations for increasing interest rates for business loans are rife, while the bank claims it's simply combating funding costs.

NAB announced last night it would increase the liquidity margin on short-term loans to medium and big businesses by 20 basis points.
It is the only major bank to charge a liquidity margin as part of its interest rate.
NAB's head of business banking, Joseph Healy, told The Australian newspaper rising funding costs necessitated a rise in liquidity margin.
"We had made the commitment that as funding costs changed then we would change the liquidity margins...We have seen those funding costs continue to go up, particularly for deposits, quite significantly," he said.
However, there are claims - from unnamed sources - the rise is funding NAB's "aggressive push" into the mortgage market, while others say businesses are being forced to subsidise NAB's promised low variable rate.
Healy hit back at the claims in the Sydney Morning Herald today.
"We treat these businesses quite separately. Our business lending book is one of the core strengths of the company; we're not going to start doing anything that will weaken our core strength," he said.