Who will it be?
With ANZ’s head of Institutional and International Banking Alex Thursby leaving to run National Bank of Abu Dhabi, his replacement will be keenly watched after the bank stomped all over speculation that Thursby’s division would be split.
Thursby was seen as favourite to replace ANZ chief executive Mike Smith and his departure prompted a slew of speculation over the future of his part of the business.
But the bank insists the breakup is not going to happen so whoever replaces Thursby will be groomed to replace Smith as head of Australia’s third-largest bank, overseeing the bank’s key strategic division.
Matthew Drummond reports in the AFR this morning that Smith has “told more than a hundred of his top executives that his bank’s Asian and institutional banking units will be kept together”.
ANZ has been consistent in its emphasis on ties with Asia and Smith commented to a group of senior managers last week on the importance of “strategic continuity and keeping the division together”.
An external candidate from banks with extensive ties to Asia such as Citigroup or HSBC would be consistent with ANZ’s strategy of continuing to build its connections to Asia.
Other comments from Smith reported by Australian Banking and Finance make it clear what an enormous opportunity there is for Australian banks by positioning themselves to take advantage of the rise of Asia’s economies.
“Our growth is being driven by the urbanisation and industrialisation of Asia. Australia needs a strong commitment to economic reform and business innovation to grasp the opportunities.”
“I believe we should be re-energising our efforts to develop Sydney as a regional financial centre.”
The shortlist of candidates is reportedly “well advanced”. A few internal candidates are also namechecked in the AFR report, which refers to the hire as a “de facto search” for Smith’s most likely replacement.