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Westpac Group CEO and Chairman travel from Australia and discuss the potential sale of Westpac NZ with Ardern, Robertson and Orr

Westpac Group CEO and Chairman travel from Australia and discuss the potential sale of Westpac NZ with Ardern, Robertson and Orr

Westpac Banking Corporation’s top brass didn’t wait long to use the trans-Tasman bubble to get to New Zealand for meetings with “key stakeholders”, following their March announcement the ownership of Westpac NZ is under review.

Westpac CEO Peter King and Chairman John McFarlane last week travelled from Australia to meet with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, Finance Minister Grant Robertson and Reserve Bank Governor Adrian Orr.

A Westpac NZ spokesperson said they were in New Zealand for a few days.

A Government spokesperson confirmed a “general catch-up” took place last Wednesday.

“Of course, the topic of the future of the [Westpac] New Zealand arm came up, but we’re not in a position to comment further,” the Government spokesperson said.

Asked by interest.co.nz whether he talked to King and McFarlane as more of a client or a regulator, Robertson said: “It was a wide-ranging discussion in which I changed hats multiple times.”

Westpac in March announced it was in the "very early stage" of reviewing its ownership of Westpac NZ.

In its interim results announcement earlier this month, King said Westpac is "continuing to assess what is in the best interests of shareholders regarding the ownership of our New Zealand business".

A sale would require Reserve Bank, and potentially Commerce Commission and Overseas Investment Office approval. A demerger could see Westpac transfer shares in Westpac NZ to its own shareholders.

While the Government is effectively a regulator of Westpac NZ, it’s also a major client, as Westpac NZ provides the Government with the bulk of its banking services.

Before the Government last reviewed its banking service providers in 2015, Westpac NZ’s contract accounted for $229 billion worth of annual credit and $219 billion of debit transactions. The Government’s banking contracts are next up for renewal in 2023.

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14 Comments

The new K-Iwi bank?

Yes, absorption by a recapitalised Kiwibank (51% Government and 49% NZX) would be nice.

Buy and merge with KiwiBank? Finally give the poor little bird some size and teeth..

I would put money on the overall performance and competitiveness of both suffering. Typically, with an LBO or merger, a well managed company acquires another that lacks management capability so benefitting both.

Also KiwiBank was started to add competition to the market, if they merge with one of the big four we will be back where we started?

This sale won't happen, mark my words. No one is going to pay them the multiple of book they want, there is nowhere else they can get this return and it makes them out as the least ambitious of the 4 Australia banks which senior staff will hate. If it happens, they clearly have problems.

Merge it with RBNZ so they have a retail arm? That would put the cat amongst the pigeons!

Paves the way for no competition no cash and socialism

Say No to the Chinese purchasing

Who else but the Chinese are going to have this sort of money ?

Pretty funny given how Westpac is the Governments Banker.
Funny in a sack your client sort of way.

What’s also funny is that even ACC banks with Westpac; the SOE’s investment arm owns 22% of Kiwibank.

Can’t judge the average Kiwi on their poor financial literacy when the country’s largest fund manager can’t make sound financial decisions on something rather basic.

Mind you plenty would pay what Westpacs worth.

Ka-Chin sold to the Chinese.

Why don't the Maori's use their collective wealth, $67b and buy WP or at least partner up with investors? That would create so many options for iwi to Go Big!