22/12/2008 - 15:54

BankWest will stay independent: Sutton

22/12/2008 - 15:54

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New BankWest managing director Jon Sutton committed his new charge to acting independently of its parent Commonwealth Bank as the major moves to take control of its new WA asset.

New BankWest managing director Jon Sutton committed his new charge to acting independently of its parent Commonwealth Bank as the major moves to take control of its new WA asset.

Mr Sutton, who will take up residence in Perth, will have a separate board chaired by Ian Mackenzie.

He dismissed concerns about the market consolidation in WA which gives the state’s two biggest banks in terms of transaction accounts a combined market share of 46 per cent.

The two will have about 27 per cent of the business banking market in WA.

While Mr Sutton said there were synergies to be gained in terms of back office development such as IT and in promoting some of CBA's other products like its stockbroking, the national bank had not purchased BankWest to lose customers.

He said there were plenty of examples globally of companies running multi-faceted brands while Australian banking mergers of the 1980s and 1990s had proved that forcing customers to change brands destroyed value.

"From a domestic sense history is a good teacher," Mr Sutton said.

Mr Sutton said CBA was committed to growing BankWest both in WA and over east and believes that the two brands embrace entirely different customers with little overlap.

However, the new BankWest chief would not be drawn to an analogy such as Qantas and Jetstar because he did not see BankWest being pitched as a discount brand.

CBA has stated that it will not shed staff or close branches as a result of the merger.

Mr Sutton would also not be drawn on the past stewardship of BankWest, notably the focus on the brand in WA.

WA Business News' annual WA brand survey has repeatedly found that BankWest's brand has been on the wane in the state.

Local advertising and marketing experts believed that its owner HBOS had been focused on growing the business in other states, where management had been increasingly based.

Mr Sutton said that he would be seeking to grow the business in WA.

Meantime, BankWest's credit rating has been upgraded to AA/A-1+ by Standard & Poor's following the completed acquisition by CBA.

 

 

 

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