The author has been described by News Ltd as an "iconoclast", "Svengali", a pollie's "economist muse", and "pungently accurate". Fairfax says he is a "Renaissance man" and "one of Australia’s most respected analysts." Stephen Koukoulas concludes that he is "85% right", and "would make a great Opposition leader." Terry McCrann claims the author thinks "‘nuance’ is a trendy village in the south of France", but can be "scintillating" when he thinks "clearly". The ACTU reckons he’s "an enigma wrapped in a Bloomberg terminal, wrapped in some apparently well-honed abs."

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Australia's top female CEO on the way out?

This would be disappointing. According to Banking Day:

"Westpac’s board is becoming restless over the bank’s direction, with talk circulating of plans to replace the chief executive, Gail Kelly, this year.

The board's discontent seems to centre around the lacklustre management of integration projects relating to the 2008 takeover of St George Bank.

Central to its disappointment in the CEO’s work was the need, late last year, to abandon or defer costly work on projects previously deemed as priorities by management, such as updating Westpac’s core banking platform...

Westpac is a laggard on measures of shareholder value, at least relative to those of Commonwealth Bank, the other bank to secure major gains in market share over the course of the financial crisis.

When Kelly joined Westpac the bank’s share price was $26.52. Two years later the share price is $22.06, a decline of 17 per cent. Over the same period, ANZ’s share price declined 15 per cent, to $22.83 from $26.89. NAB’s declined 33 per cent, to $23.89.

Commonwealth limited the decline in its share value over two years to just two per cent, to $50.30.

Talk began to circulate before Christmas of steps being taken by the board to engage head-hunters to scout for potential chief executives for the bank. Talk of this plan is now becoming more widespread in Westpac circles.

The talk suggests the board plans to select a new CEO by the second half of 2011.

Search firm Egon Zehnder is believed to have a mandate from Ted Evans, chair of the Westpac board, to conduct the search.

The Melbourne office of Egon Zehnder undertook the search, in 2007 that led to the hiring of Kelly, who replaced David Morgan at Westpac."