Banking: ANZ shoots straight for Asia
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Banking: ANZ shoots straight for Asia

At a time when others have retrenched and reshaped, ANZ stands out for the brassiness of its ambition. Can it match its words with delivery?

WHEN EUROMONEY MEETS Alex Thursby, ANZ’s chief executive for Asia-Pacific, Europe and America, the interview isn’t at the bank’s Singapore office on Raffles Place but in a boardroom at local conglomerate Fraser & Neave. The boardroom is next door to the office of F&N chairman Lee Hsien Yang, who is the brother of prime minister Lee Hsien Loong, son of Singapore’s elder statesman Lee Kuan Yew, and an ANZ director since February 2009.

ANZ is giving Euromoney a message with its choice of interview location: that it is connected in Asia and committed, as well as a presence to be taken seriously. It’s a message that has been hammered home repeatedly for two-and-a-half years since Mike Smith, a former HSBC executive, followed his appointment as ANZ chief executive by unveiling a punchy and highly specific ambition to become what he calls a "super-regional bank", deriving 20% of its earnings from the Asia-Pacific region by 2012 (it was 7% in 2007).

Since that day, everything that ANZ has done – its appointments, the competitors it poaches from, its acquisitions, its choice of board representatives – has reflected that international and chiefly Asian goal. Even domestic activity is couched in Asian terms: when ANZ acquired a A$2.4