Gonski to leave ANZ and hand reins over to former Optus CEO O’Sullivan

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Image: Asha McLean/ZDNet

Chairman of the Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ANZ) David Gonski has announced he will step away from the blue bank on October 28.

After being a director for 11 years, and chairman since 2014, Gonski will hand the reins over to Paul O’Sullivan.

O’Sullivan is currently chairman of Australian telco Optus, chairman of Western Sydney Airport Corporation, and a director of Coca Cola Amatil.

He was previously CEO of Optus between 2004 and 2012 and has also held senior executive roles with Optus’ parent company Singtel.

He is also a director of the St George and Sutherland Medical Research Foundation, the National Disability Insurance Agency, and St Vincent’s Health Australia.

“I feel it’s the right time to hand over the reins to Paul. We have in place an experienced, diverse and talented management team as well as having made significant progress on our ambitions to simplify and improve our operations,” Gonski wrote in a letter to ANZ staff.

“Importantly, we have also taken steps to improve the governance around matters impacting our reputation, including the now well-established Ethics, Environment, Social & Governance Board committee.”

Gonski said he was “proud” to have played a role in choosing Shayne Elliott as the bank’s chief executive and that he was leaving ANZ in good shape under his leadership.

He said serving as ANZ’s chairman would always remain a key highlight of his corporate career. The 2011 review into trends in the educational outcomes of Australian students, the Gonski report, was named after the outgoing ANZ chairman, as he chaired the review panel.

For the first half of 2020, ANZ reported a 51% drop in statutory net profit to AU$1.55 billion. The bank said the profit decline was driven primarily by credit impairment charges of AU$1.6 billion that included increased credit reserves for COVID-19 impacts of AU$1 billion.

Its Australian operations saw a 23% drop in cash profit to AU$1.4 billion, with expenses totalling AU$1.9 billion, on revenue of AU$4.7 billion.

Over the ditch, its New Zealand operations produced NZ$600 million in cash profit, down 20% year on year, with NZ$700 million in expenses, on revenue of NZ$1.8 billion.

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