By Gareth Vaughan
From an ANZ Group perspective jettisoning the National Bank brand is important so the group's New Zealand operations are fully a part of the "global" ANZ brand, and to prevent visitors to New Zealand from associating it with Britain's Lloyds TSB, says group CEO Mike Smith.
Speaking to interest.co.nz in a Double Shot interview, Australia and New Zealand Banking Group boss Smith noted the move to phase the National Bank brand out over two years comes nearly a decade after the ANZ Group bought the National Bank from Lloyds in 2003. Under Smith the ANZ Group, which owns the ANZ and National banks, UDC Finance and fund manager and insurer OnePath in New Zealand, has focused on growth in Asia through a "super-regional" strategy. It launched its first global advertising campaign last year, which features Australian actor Simon Baker in character as Patrick Jane from television show The Mentalist.
"We have created a global brand in ANZ," Smith said. "So when you are exporting stuff from New Zealand to anywhere in Asia, you're going to an ANZ branch or business. And therefore it's very important that New Zealand was represented as part of our international brand, our global brand. We felt that the time was right to make that change."
Asked about comments ANZ New Zealand CEO David Hisco made to interest.co.nz in September when he said culling the National Bank black horse logo would see ANZ move away from a "damaged brand" and consolidate into a "strong brand" in ANZ, given National Bank's historical links to Lloyds and ANZ's AA- credit rating, Smith agreed.
"International visitors to New Zealand would automatically associate that (black horse) logo with the Lloyds Bank, a bank that has required a taxpayer handout. That's not what we want to be associated with. ANZ has come through the global (financial) crisis as one of the stronger banks in the world so we want to represent that strength," Smith said.
Although the National Bank has been popular with customers and maintained a good reputation in New Zealand, its former parent Lloyds, whose logo it shares, hasn't faired so well in Britain.
Lloyds is now 41% owned by the British government and known as Lloyds Banking Group after Lloyds TSB bought Halifax Bank of Scotland (HBOS) at the height of the Global Financial Crisis after then British Prime Minister Gordon Brown brokered the deal. The British taxpayer has sunk £20.3 billion (about NZ$40 billion) into Lloyds.
Meanwhile, Smith said New Zealand was a "very important" part of the ANZ Group. In ANZ's recent annual results its Asia, Pacific, Europe and America division contributed 21% of group revenue, passing a target of 20% for this unit Smith set five years ago.
"Quite clearly it (the New Zealand economy) is not going to grow as fast as China or India, but it is going to continue to grow probably as fast as Australia," Smith said. "So in terms of the structure of the group's earnings, New Zealand continues to play a major part."
He noted that in the past the ANZ Group had been criticised for having an exposure to New Zealand that was too high given it owned two of the country's big five banks in ANZ and National.
"I haven't heard that argument for a long time now so obviously that problem has gone away. I actually feel the New Zealand business is going to be incredibly important as part of that super regional business because quite clearly, along with Australia, New Zealand's economy is going to be completely intertwined with the opportunity of Asia for its future," said Smith.
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