ANZ won't leave Australia behind
Pregnant at home
One of the biggest concerns domestically about ANZ’s Asian ambition was that Australia itself would be left behind. This was widely expressed when the policy was first announced in 2007 and it came back to the fore when the RBS deal went through. "In ANZ I see a bank that’s number four in the banking system," Brian Johnson at CLSA told Euromoney at the time. "Asia is structurally exciting but ANZ needs to bulk up in Australia and that should be the priority."
Since then, though, ANZ has won over some of its critics, Johnson included. ANZ used to operate in the wealth management area (probably the single greatest preoccupation of Australian banking in the past decade) through an unwieldy joint venture with ING, but bought out ING’s 51% interest in September for A$1.76 billion ($1.62 billion). "Our whole wealth management strategy was quite clearly dysfunctional while we had that joint venture in place," says Mike Smith. "We were half pregnant. You’ve got to be one thing or the other. And I think the global financial crisis allowed us an opportunity where we had a distressed seller to become fully pregnant.