Hunt is on at CBA to fill Chap­man’s shoes


The game of ex­ec­u­tive mu­si­cal chairs at the Com­mon­wealth Bank of Aus­tralia has kicked off fol­low­ing the res­ig­na­tion of the bank’s New Zealand man­ag­ing di­rec­tor.

Bar­bara Chap­man, who has headed CBA’s New Zealand arm ASB since 2011, said on Mon­day she would re­tire at Easter next year.

Her de­ci­sion comes two weeks af­ter CBA’s wealth boss Annabel Spring said she would leave the bank in De­cem­ber fol­low­ing the sale of the com­pany’s life in­sur­ance busi­ness.

Chief ex­ec­u­tive Ian Narev will leave by July next year, which is ex­pected to trig­ger a shake-up of the bank’s se­nior ranks.

While Chap­man’s de­par­ture is not di­rectly linked to Narev’s de­ci­sion to leave, it is a pre­cur­sor to the up­heaval in the bank’s se­nior ranks that will fol­low the an­nounce­ment of his re­place­ment.

Chap­man’s ap­point­ment in 2011 by for­mer chief Ralph Nor­ris pre-dates Narev and she is not part of the close-knit team he ap­pointed af­ter he got the job.

Chap­man has not been di­rectly linked to the se­ries of scan­dals sur­round­ing the bank and she is un­der­stood to have been look­ing to move on for some time.

Her de­ci­sion to re­tire will cre­ate an at­trac­tive va­cancy though for one of the ris­ing stars who will ben­e­fit from next year’s man­age­ment over­haul.

An ob­vi­ous suc­ces­sor would be the bank’s head of strat­egy, New Zealan­der Vit­to­ria Shortt. The job would give her the ex­pe­ri­ence if she wanted to re­turn to Aus­tralia in a more se­nior role in the fu­ture.

She was in­volved in the re­cent A$4 bil­lion deal to sell the com­pany’s life in­sur­ance busi­ness to AIA.

An­other name closer to home that’s be­ing thrown around is for­mer Fair­fax NZ man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Si­mon Tong. He left the me­dia com­pany (pub­lisher of Stuff and the Sun­day Star-Times) ear­lier this year to be­come ASB’s ex­ec­u­tive gen­eral man­ager Tech­nol­ogy, In­no­va­tion and Pay­ments, re­port­ing to Chap­man.

The de­ci­sion by two of the bank’s most se­nior ex­ec­u­tives to an­nounce their de­par­ture in a fort­night will trig­ger spec­u­la­tion about a mass ex­o­dus of se­nior staff.

While money laun­der­ing al­le­ga­tions have tar­nished the chances of top in­ter­nal can­di­dates to suc­ceed Narev, many ex­ec­u­tives will likely wait to see who Narev’s suc­ces­sor will be. An ex­ter­nal re­place­ment is be­ing tipped.

Names be­ing bandied around to re­place Narev in­clude Royal Bank of Scotland boss Ross McEwan, Med­ibank chief Craig Drum­mond and for­mer West­pac ex­ec­u­tive Rob Whit­field.

CBA re­tail bank boss Matt Comyn had pre­vi­ously been con­sid­ered the most likely in­ter­nal can­di­date along with new fi­nance chief Rob Je­su­da­son.

One prob­lem chair­man Cather­ine Liv­ing­stone faces if she wants to at­tract the top tal­ent from off­shore banks is pay. CBA, like all the Aus­tralia banks, is un­der enor­mous po­lit­i­cal pres­sure to crack down on re­mu­ner­a­tion.

- Aus­tralian Fi­nan­cial Re­view/ Stuff


Can­di­dates are al­ready be­ing sug­gested to re­place Bar­bara Chap­man at ASB.

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