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Blue chips join the game

WHILE serial name changers tend to be small companies, some of Western Australia’s biggest blue chip companies have also changed their names.

Wesfarmers, Woodside Petroleum, Alinta and Iluka Resources can all trace their history back to different names.

The most recent example was Alinta, which dropped the gas suffix from its name to reflect its diversification into the electricity market. It is developing a cogeneration power station in partnership with Alcoa and is competing directly with Western Power in the electricity market.

Another recent name changer was Minara Resources, which is keen to distance itself from its loss making days as Anaconda Nickel.

Chief executive Peter Johnston leads a new management team at Minara, which completed a major financial restructuring last year and is looking forward to trading profitably for the first time in its history.

Mineral sands miner Iluka Resources (originally known as Westralian Oil) adopted its current name in 1999.

The company felt the increased diversity and global spread of its operations meant that it had outgrown its former name, Westralian Sands.

Several companies have shortened their name in response to a maturing or widening of their activities. These include Integrated Group, formerly known as Integrated Workforce, Coventry Group, formerly known as Coventry Motor Replacements and Austal, formerly known as Austal Ships.

Woodside Petroleum was established in Victoria in 1954 as Woodside (Lakes Entrance) Oil NL and was known for a few years as Woodside-Burmah Oil NL, before adopting its current name in 1977.

Wesfarmers’ original name was Tatnaki – a shelf company owned by the West Australian Farmers Cooperative – which was the vehicle for its stock exchange listing in 1984.

BankWest, now owned by UK banking group HBOS, has been through multiple name changes in its 100-year history. Originally known as the Agricultural Bank, it became the Rural and Industries Bank in 1945 then shortened its name to the R&I Bank.

In 1994 it adopted its current name, Bank of Western Australia, BankWest for trading purposes.

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