Alex Thursby, ANZ’s chief executive
officer for Asia-Pacific, Europe and America, tells Elena Torrijos that a string of recent
deals in Asia illustrate just how important the Australian bank
considers the region. The only major gap in its portfolio is India,
described as a ‘bridge too far’ for the time being

Australia’s ANZ has struck two major deals in
the past few months that underscore the seriousness of its
ambitions to become a “super regional bank” with a significant
presence in Asia-Pacific while keeping focused on its traditional

Alex Thursby, ANZ’s chief executive officer
for Asia-Pacific, Europe and America, explained the bank’s strategy
in light of recent developments, telling RBI: “Our aspiration is
for the Asia-Pacific business to contribute 20 percent of group net
profit after tax by 2012, up from 7 percent in 2007.”

In early August, ANZ agreed to acquire the
Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) Group’s retail, wealth and commercial
businesses in Taiwan, Singapore, Indonesia and Hong Kong, and the
institutional businesses in Taiwan, the Philippines and Vietnam for
$550 million.

This was followed in late September by a deal
to purchase the 51 percent shareholding it did not already own in
the ANZ-ING wealth management and life insurance joint ventures in
Australia and New Zealand for $1.56 billion.

On 28 September, ANZ also become the first Australian bank to
open a rural bank in China. The Chongqing Liangping ANZ Rural Bank
Co Ltd is a 100 percent-owned subsidiary of ANZ, with the bank
working toward obtaining local incorporation in China in early 2010
to enable it to provide a broader range of services to local
customers and businesses and expand its branch network. ANZ also
has three own-branded branches in Shanghai, Beijing and

While Thursby stressed that ANZ’s “super
regional” strategy reflects the view that Asia – led by India and
China – will be an engine for global and Australian growth for many
decades to come, the bank did not bid for the RBS businesses for
sale in China and India.

Thursby explained: “In China, we have a
significant, well-developed organic growth plan which is well on
track, and in India, given we are still in the process of applying
for a banking licence, we felt it was a bridge too far for

He added: “We will continue to consider
inorganic opportunities, but they need to fit our strategy, add
value to shareholders and we have to have the ability to integrate

Thursby said that the bank has a
“predominantly” organic growth strategy in Asia-Pacific.

Indeed, even with the RBS deal, ANZ has been
investing in branches or subsidiaries in the region. The Australian
bank is set to double the capital base of ANZ Vietnam to $112
million this year after receiving approval to do so by Vietnam’s
central bank.

This year it has opened six new outlets in
Vietnam, opened eight new branches in Indonesia and gained approval
for new branches in Beijing and Guangzhou in China.

Thursby also said the bank’s growth strategy
is to leverage bank partnerships in Asia. In Malaysia it has a 20
percent stake in AmBank, and in China it has a 20 percent stake in
Bank of Tianjin and a 19.9 percent stake in Shanghai Rural
Commercial Bank.

And the investments in Asia appear to be
paying off.

The Asia-Pacific, Europe and America
division’s net profit after tax almost doubled in the first half of
its fiscal year ending 30 September 2009 to A$401 million ($363
million) from A$205 million for the second half of the previous
fiscal year.

The division is expected to deliver a further
increase of 60 percent when the 2009 full-year results are

“We have been investing in growing our
Asia-Pacific business across a range of fronts over the past few
years and these investments are already delivering returns,”
Thursby said.

“Over the past two years in Asia we have grown
from about 2,000 to more than 5,000 employees in our
customer-facing business and we are continuing to support our
growth strategy by adding more talented local staff and building a
leadership team of international bankers with deep Asian

ANZ – summary of RBS Asia business being



Nos of branches

Customers (000s)

Deposits ($bn)


Retail, commercial & institutional




Hong Kong

Retail & commercial





Retail & commercial





Retail & commercial














(1) plus 16 licences

Source: ANZ

Not forgetting its home market

RBI DealWatch

RBI DealWatch tracks global financial
services mergers and acquisitions, privatisations and
demutualisations, flotations, divestments, share stakes, strategic
alliances and joint ventures.






Europe, Middle East, Africa


Société Générale

Capital raising

Société Générale (SocGen) has kicked off a
€4.8 billion ($7.1 billion) cash call, with €3.4 billion of the
proceeds earmarked to repay the French government’s stake bought at
the height of the economic crisis. SocGen also announced that it is
in talks to buy the remaining 20 percent it does not own of French
regional retail bank Crédit du Nord from Belgium-based Dexia.

5 Oct


Barclays, Standard Life Bank

Unit sale

UK insurance group Standard Life is rumoured
to be discussing the sale of its mortgage-focused banking unit,
estimated to be worth around £200 million ($319 million) to £300
million, with Barclays.

4 Oct



Unit sale

Commerzbank has concluded the sale of private
banking arm Commerzbank (Switzerland) to the Vontobel Group. At the
end of 2008, the unit managed assets of CHF4.5 billion ($4.4

2 Oct

The Netherlands

Fortis Bank Nederland, BNP Paribas

Business divestment

The Dutch government is considering a sale of
some assets of Fortis Bank Nederland, including Fortis Commercial
Banking and Commercial Finance, to BNP Paribas, according to Dutch
newspaper Het Financieele Dagblad.

29 Sep


BNP Paribas

Capital raising

BNP Paribas is to raise capital of around
€4.3 billion as part of a move to reimburse the French government’s
€5.1 billion capital advance. According to the bank, the capital
increase will be an underwritten rights issue with preferential
subscription rights for ordinary shareholders.

29 Sep

The Netherlands

Rabobank, Eureko

Strategy update

Rabobank and insurer Eureko have reached
agreement on intensifying their successful commercial cooperation.
Eureko and its two largest shareholders, Rabobank and Vereniging
Achmea, have also extended their existing agreement relating to an
intention to merge.

24 Sep


Bank Leumi

Stake sale

According to local reports, Israel’s Finance
Ministry has decided to sell the government’s 10.3 percent stake in
Bank Leumi – the country’s largest bank – in a deal that could be
worth up to $540 million.

23 Sep

The Americas



Initial public offering

Banco Santander (Brazil), the Brazilian
division of Spain’s Santander has sold more than $6.9 billion of
shares in an IPO, setting a record for a Brazilian new listing.
Around 70 percent of the proceeds have been earmarked to boost its
branch network in the country by 600 branches in the south and
south-east of the country and increase lending (see RBI 619).

8 Oct

Americas (continued)







Southern Colorado National Bank

Bank failures

98 banks have now failed in the US in 2009.
Southern Colorado National Bank became the latest to close, with
Legacy Bank assuming all of the deposits of Southern Colorado. The
failed bank had total assets of $39.5 million and total deposits of
approximately $31.9 million.

8 Oct


China Minsheng Banking Corporation, UCBH

Stake increase

According to a report by Bloomberg, China
Minsheng Banking Corporation is weighing plans to increase its
stake in California-based UCBH Holdings. The Chinese group is
looking to up its holding to at least 50 percent from 9.6 percent.
UCBH, once touted as one of the more dynamic Californian banks, has
suffered badly during the US economic crisis, with its shares
losing around 90 percent in value and pushing the bank’s market
value to $100 million. United Commercial Bank, the core commercial
banking subsidiary of UCBH Holdings, is aimed primarily at Chinese
communities in the US and US companies doing business in Greater

6 Oct


UBS, Paine Webber

Strategy update

UBS has corrected press reports suggesting
its US-based wealth management operation Paine Webber had been
placed on the market, adding that it had received offers for the
business but had “not taken any of them seriously”.

28 Sep



Central Huijin Investment, Industrial and
Commercial Bank of China, Bank of China, China Construction

Stake acquisitions

Central Huijin Investment, a large Chinese
sovereign wealth fund, has committed to buying further shares in
the country’s three largest public banks – Industrial and
Commercial Bank of China, Bank of China and China Construction Bank
– following recent share purchases which took its ownership in the
three banks to 35.42 percent, 67.53 percent and 57.09 percent,

12 Oct

South Korea

Woori Finance Holding

Government sale

The South Korean government, which owns 73
percent of Woori Finance Holdings, is planning to sell a 7 percent
stake in the holding company within the year if market conditions

9 Oct


Thanachart Bank, Siam City Bank

Rights issue, acquisition

Thailand’s Thanachart Bank has proposed a
rights issue to raise THB40 billion ($1.2 billion) to fund the
purchase of Siam City Bank.

7 Oct

India, China, Malaysia

Royal Bank of Scotland, Standard

Unit sales abandoned

Standard Chartered and Royal Bank of Scotland
Group have failed to agree a price for the sale of RBS’ assets in
India, China and Malaysia. HSBC has been linked to the deal as a
possible acquirer, as has ANZ.

5 Oct


National Australia Bank

Strategy update

National Australia Bank has said it is only
interested in “bolt-on or incremental” deals following UK press
reports linking it with a possible bid for UK insurer Legal &

2 Oct


Citigroup, Sumitomo Trust, Nomura, Sumitomo
Mitsui Banking Corporation

Unit sales

Citigroup has completed sales of its various
Japanese investment banking and asset management units to Sumitomo
Trust, Nomura, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation, raising $10
billion in the process. The divestments represent a stiff
about-turn in Citigroup’s plans to dominate the Japanese
institutional and commercial banking markets. The deal to sell
Nikko Cordial Securities to Sumitomo Mitsui is the biggest of the
three: the transaction carries a total cash value to Citi of ¥776
billion ($8.7 billion). A total of about 7,800 employees are
included in the deal.

2 Oct


Agricultural Bank of China

Initial Public Offering

Agricultural Bank of China has not decided
when and where to hold its long-awaited initial public offering
(IPO), an executive told Reuters in an interview. The comments by
Pan Gongsheng, vice-president in charge of its restructuring and
listing, came in response to a report by the South China Morning
Post, which said the bank planned to list shares only in Shanghai
and not in Hong Kong.

28 Sep



Unit sale

ING is selling its 51 percent stake in a
wealth management joint venture to partner ANZ for $1.6 billion
(see main story). ING is continuing to dispose of non-core assets
as part of a major divestment plan outlined in April this year (see
RBI 610). It has also announced plans to sell its Swiss private
banking operation to Bank Julius Baer for $500 million.

25 Sep


Westpac, Commonwealth Bank of Australia,
National Australia Bank and ANZ

Four Pillars policy update

Australia’s ‘four pillars’ competition
policy, originally introduced in 1990 to blocks mergers between the
country’s four largest banks – Westpac, Commonwealth Bank of
Australia, National Australia Bank and ANZ – should stay in force,
according to an Australian senate enquiry. While the Big Four, in
particular ANZ and Westpac, have argued that the strategy –
designed to promote competition and protect consumers – prevents
them from competing on the global stage, it has been credited with
limiting the effects of the global banking crisis spreading to

17 Sep



Unit sale

Singapore’s United Overseas Bank is selling
its life insurance unit in an effort to shed a non-core asset and
raise up to $500 million.

11 Sep

Source: RBI