CBA’s Comyn the last to know

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Commonwealth Bank of Australia appoints new CEO.

Australian analysts have described the appointment at the end of January of Matt Comyn as Commonwealth Bank of Australia’s new chief executive as a surprise, given that he is an insider and the board had expected to embrace change.

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Matt Comyn, CBA
If Comyn is to be believed, nobody was more surprised than him.

In a press conference in Sydney on January 29, Comyn told reporters: “I only found out this morning.”

A subsequent question sought to clarify this. He replied: “There were discussions over the weekend and it was finalized.”

The 42-year-old head of retail banking was always in the mix for the top job – Euromoney said so in August – but in the weeks before the announcement it had seemed increasingly likely that chair Catherine Livingstone would opt for someone from the outside so as to make a clean break from the scandals that have dogged the bank.

“We did a global and local search, so we considered a significant number of candidates,” says Livingstone. “Matt came out as compellingly the best candidate.”

That’s as may be, but it seems hard to believe she only got around to telling him on the morning of an analyst and media briefing that started at 9.30am.