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BANKING

Australia: ANZ pushes on with super-regional ambitions

Purchases from RBS broaden horizons; But were the best assets bought?

Mike Smith, ANZ

"Our vision of being a super-regional bank makes even more sense today than it did when I articulated it in December 2007"

Mike Smith, ANZ

The track record of Australian financial services groups expanding overseas is patchy: AMP and National Australia Bank are among the pioneers that have lost their way when acquiring outside Australia. The latest to try its hand is ANZ, which in August took a big step towards its ambition to become what chief executive Mike Smith calls a "super-regional bank" by buying $550 million-worth of RBS businesses in Asia. Unlike other Australian banks, which have tended to focus on the US and Europe, ANZ’s strategy is all about Asia. Smith says he has "a firmly held belief that Asia will continue to grow as the engine room of the world economy. Given that outlook there is a compelling rationale for any financial services company with long-term aspirations to give its shareholders exposure to the Asian growth story."

Frontier markets
ANZ is already the leading foreign bank in some frontier markets such as Cambodia, Papua New Guinea and East Timor, among the leaders (and locally incorporated) in Vietnam, and strong in Indonesia, where it is majority owner of ANZ Panin.

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