New boss for embattled Aussie bank

Marco Green
January 25, 2020

Westpac has named banking veteran John McFarlane as chairman-elect, entrusting the former ANZ boss to help steer it through the fallout of a massive money-laundering scandal.

Westpac Banking Corp (ASX:WBC) insider Lindsay Maxsted acquired 462 shares of the firm's stock in a transaction dated Friday, December 20th.

"Most recently, Mr McFarlane was chairman at Barclays in London, which after the global financial crisis underwent a decade of challenge".

Mr Maxsted announced his intention to bring forward his retirement to early 2020 in November a year ago as the bank was engulfed in a money-laundering scandal over allegations it failed to vet thousands of payments.

Analysts said on Wednesday night board had opted for Mr McFarlane in part because it needed a "change agent" with extensive retail banking experience, a strong track record, and a deep understanding of Australia's banking market.

Mr McFarlane was chief executive of ANZ Group from 1997 to 2007 and more recently has been chairman of Barlays Bank, the Royal Bank of Scotland, British transport operator FirstGroup and United Kingdom insurance company Aviva, where he fired the chief executive within weeks of arriving.

"During his four years as chairman, the company was streamlined, repositioned and has sustainably returned to profit". It operates through five divisions: Consumer Bank, Business Bank, BT Financial Group, Westpac Institutional Bank, and Westpac New Zealand.

In a statement he described himself as "sufficiently battle-hardened to realise things can be tougher than you think, and that in banking, nothing is ever certain".

Mr McFarlane was ANZ chief executive between 1997 and 2007 and chairman of Barclays from 2015 to 2019.

Mr McFarlane will also serve as Westpac's non-executive director, a role he will start in February.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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