Talent withdrawal the new problem plaguing Catherine Livingstone's Commonwealth Bank

By | octubre 2, 2017
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There is no suggestion that the head of Commonwealth Bank’s Kiwi operations, Barbara Chapman – who announced her retirement on Monday – was ever a contender to replace her retiring boss, Ian Narev

But it must worry investors that she is joining a steady withdrawal of talent at CBA, which is not being matched with many deposits. Dare we say, it is starting to look like a run on the bank … or at least a run from the bank.

Rumours that former Reserve Bank governor, Glenn Stevens, turned down a board role at the bank following the AUSTRAC scandal – and he did not return calls and emails from CBD to say otherwise – only highlights the challenges being faced by chairwoman Catherine Livingstone

She will soon be losing three directors with only one appointment named to fill the boardroom vacancies. 

And the string of CommBank record profits, the only solace from its record run of scandals, is being jeopardised by the unseemly volume of talent turnover at the executive level. 

Narev will be out the door by July next year. The bank’s chief financial officer, David Craig, stepped down at the end of June.

Wealth boss Annabel Spring will be out the door in December, following the dismantling of the business she runs. 

The bank’s security expert John Geurts left last year. 

Veteran chief risk officer Alden Toevs retired last year but remains an adviser to the board – for now.   

And keep in mind that Livingstone only started as chairwoman this year, barely six months before the AUSTRAC scandal threw any carefully laid succession planning out the window. 

It is a staggering level of departures for an organisation facing massive challenges, and parachuting in a cleanskin from its New Zealand bank, ASB, may have been a handy Plan B if newly appointed director – and one of the hot prospects to replace Narev – Rob Whitfield is having second thoughts.  

It’s not like CommBank hasn’t done it before. The bank appointed former ASB chief executive Ralph Norris in 2005 after poaching him back from Air New Zealand. 

Rival bank ANZ Group went for this option in promoting Shayne Elliott from chief executive of its Kiwi operations to heading the entire group. So did NAB, which appointed Andrew Thorburn – a joint citizen of New Zealand and Australia.

Long wager 

The Tabcorp/Tatts nuptials has had more twists and turns than a season of The Bachelor, so it is just as well Tabcorp boss David Attenborough has his performance measured by other parameters. 

Just over 415,000 long-term performance rights vested into Tabcorp shares – at no cost – on Monday, significantly boosting Attenborough’s stash of stock to more than 1.2 million shares worth just over $5 million at current prices. 

It helps replenish his stock pot which was depleted late last year when Attenborough was forced to sell $4 million worth of shares “to fund the purchase of a family home”.

Attenborough has plenty of reasons to wish the share price higher over the rest of this year as Tatts investors contemplate the approval of the proposed merger. This assumes that it survives the latest legal challenge from competition regulator Rod Sims.

The good news is that the two parties will no longer have a nervous wait in the lead up to the Melbourne Cup, with the latest shenanigans kicking the scheme meeting vote by Tatts investors to November 30. 

And, if all goes to plan, the merger will become effective December 14. Which means Tatts boss Robbie Cooke will be out of a job before Christmas. 

Charity home

Charity begins at home, so they say. 

So it might be appropriate that two of our biggest property groups, Lang Walker‘s Walker corporation and McDonald Jones Homes, are testing the strength of our toppling property market by auctioning off some bricks and mortar in the name of charity. 

The groups are hoping to fetch $750,000 at an auction this month for the “Home Built with Love”, a four-bedroom, fully furnished house in Sydney’s south-west.

All proceeds from the sale go directly to Children’s Cancer Institute’s vital research program. 

Follow CBD on Twitter. Got a tip? ckruger@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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