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Westpac Banking Corporation
Type Public
Traded as ASX: WBC
Industry Banking, Financial services
Predecessors Bank of NSW (est. 1817); Commercial Bank of Australia
Founded 1982 as Westpac
Headquarters Westpac Place
Sydney, Australia
Number of locations 1,200 branches
2,900 ATMs [1]
Area served Worldwide
Key people Gail Kelly (CEO and Managing director)
Lindsay Maxsted (Chairman)
Products Finance and insurance
Consumer Banking
Corporate Banking
Investment Banking
Investment Management
Global Wealth Management
Private Equity
Credit Cards
Revenue Increase A$38.28 billion (2013)[2]
Net income Increase A$6.816 billion (2013)[2]
Total assets Increase A$696.0 billion (2013)[2]
Employees 33,045 (2013)[1]

Westpac (a portmanteau of "Western-Pacific"), is an Australian bank and financial-services provider headquartered in Sydney. It is one of Australia's big four banks and is also the second-largest bank in New Zealand.

As of November 2011, Westpac had 12.2 million customers, Australia's largest branch network with almost 1200 branches and a network with more than 2900 ATMs. The bank is Australia's second-largest bank by assets.[1]


  • History 1
    • Westpac is formed 1.1
  • Core business activities 2
    • Westpac Retail and Business Banking (RBB) 2.1
    • Westpac Institutional Bank (WIB) 2.2
    • Product and Operations (P&O) 2.3
    • BT Financial Group 2.4
    • St.George Bank Group (including BankSA, Bank of Melbourne and RAMS) 2.5
    • Westpac New Zealand 2.6
      • Naming rights 2.6.1
    • Other business units 2.7
    • ATM Alliance 2.8
    • Westpac Migrant Banking 2.9
    • Pacific Banking 2.10
    • Banking Alliance for Women 2.11
  • Corporate governance 3
    • Board of Directors 3.1
    • Executive Team 3.2
  • Controversy 4
    • US Federal reserve borrowings 4.1
    • Funding of coal mining in New Zealand 4.2
  • Corporate responsibility 5
  • See also 6
  • References 7
  • Further reading 8
  • External links 9


WBC headquarters in Sydney

Established in Sydney in 1817, the Bank of New South Wales (BNSW) was the first bank in Australia with Edward Smith Hall as its first cashier and secretary.[3] During the 19th and early 20th century, the Bank opened branches first throughout Australia and Oceania, at Moreton Bay (Brisbane) in 1850, then in Victoria (1851), New Zealand (1861), South Australia (1877), Western Australia (1883), Fiji (1901), Papua New Guinea (1910) and Tasmania (1910).

Westpac is formed

  • 1982: BNSW merged with the Commercial Bank of Australia to form Westpac Banking Corporation. WBC was framed with the mission to become a significant Western-Pacific bank from which the Westpac portmanteau is derived. The brandname incorporated the "W" which had been the logo of the Bank of New South Wales (popularly known as "the Wales").
  • 1984: The original agreement between BNSW and the government in the Gilbert and Ellice Islands expired and WBC and the government of Kiribati formed Bank of Kiribati as a 51%–49% joint venture. Bank of Kiribati also fulfilled the functions of a reserve or central bank.
  • 1985: WBC replaced Barclays Bank in the National Bank of Tuvalu (est. 1981) in Tuvalu (ex-Ellice Islands), taking 40% of the shares as well as a 10-year management contract.
  • 1988: WBC acquired the European Pacific Banking Corporation in the Cook Islands and a HSBC subsidiary, the Solomon Islands Banking Corporation, which HSBC had established as a branch in 1973. WBC also acquired HSBC's operations in Fiji and the New Hebrides, and established a branch in Niue that is the only bank in that country. (HSBC had established its branch in Fiji only some 18 months earlier).
  • 1990: Bank of New Zealand sold half its shares in Bank of Tonga to WBC and half to Bank of Hawaii, giving each of them 30%. WBC bought Banque Indosuez's operations in New Caledonia and Tahiti. (Banque de l'Indochine, which later merged into Banque Indosuez, had established itself in New Caledonia in 1888 and in Papeete, Tahiti in 1905. In both places l'Indochine functioned as the bank of issue until 1966-7.)
  • 1992: WBC recorded a 1.6 billion dollar loss, which at the time, was the largest loss for an Australian corporation. In this environment, the Bank dismissed staff and raided the superannuation to sustain its viability. In the process WBC came close to insolvency, and slipped from being Australia's largest to third largest bank.
  • 1995: WBC sold its shares in National Bank of Tuvalu to that country's government, which now wholly owns the bank.
  • 1995: WBC acquired Challenge Bank in Western Australia.
  • 1996: WBC Holdings NZ bought Trust Bank, a chain of regional banks owned by Community Trusts, for NZD1.2 billion to form NZ largest bank, WestpacTrust. The bank had promised to keep the funding to Community Trusts flowing and to keep "Trust" in its name. However, Community Trust funding has slowed to a trickle, and in 2002 the bank launched a major rebranding which included dropping the "Trust" from its name. The merger of WBC and Trustbank also saw the closure of many branches around New Zealand. In towns and cities where both WBC and Trustbank existed, the bank merged redundant branches into a single branch; also it closed down many branches in rural areas and outer suburbs.
  • 1996: WBC sold Challenge Bank to the Bank of Melbourne.
  • 1997: WBC acquired Bank of Melbourne in Victoria, paying an estimated price in excess of A$1.4b. WBC retained the rights to the Bank of Melbourne name and logos, but in 2004 rebadged the branches as Westpac. In 2011, Westpac relaunched the brand.[4]
  • 1998: WBC sold its operations in New Caledonia and Tahiti to Société Générale, which merged them with Société Générale Calédonienne de Banque (est. 1971) and Banque de Polynésie (est. 1973), respectively.
  • 2001: The government of Kiribati sought to reduce Westpac's share in Bank of Kiribati from 51 to 49%, leading WBC to sell its shares back to the government. Bank of Hawaii sold its interest in Pacific Commercial Bank (42.7%) to Westpac, which held an equal portion. WBC offered Samoan investors, who held the remaining shares, the same price it had paid Bank of Hawaii. WBC now owns 93.5% of Westpac Bank Samoa and Samoan companies and individuals own 6.5%. In Tonga, Bank of Hawaii sold its shares in Bank of Tonga to Westpac, giving WBC 60% ownership of what is now Westpac Bank of Tonga.
  • 2002: WBC acquired BT Financial Group and Rothschild Australia Asset Management.
  • 2004: The Reserve Bank of New Zealand required WBC to incorporate its NZ branches network. WBC sold its branch in Niue to Bank of South Pacific.
  • 2008: Former Gail Kelly appointed Chief executive officer and Managing director.
  • 2008: WBC announced that it intended to merge with the 5th largest Australian bank, Federal Court of Australia approved the merger of Westpac and St.George.
  • 2008 & 2009: Secret funds are secured from the Federal Reserve of USD$1.09 billion. (see Secret Bailout 2007 & 2008)
  • 2011: During July, St.George branches in the state of Victoria were rebadged as Bank Of Melbourne branches.
  • In early February 2012, Westpac announced plans to axe more than 400 domestic jobs and another 150 offshore jobs. This action was a response to much slower growth over the past several years and the desire to rationalise following Westpac's 2008 merger with St. George Bank.[6]
  • February 2013: Westpac selected Oracle's Exadata Database Machine and Exalogic Elastic Cloud solutions to support the ongoing deployment of Oracle-based Master Data Management (MDM) applications, with the overall aim to achieve a single view of its customer information.[7]

Core business activities

Westpac's core business consists of nine business units (five customer facing) through which it serves around 8.2 million customers. These business areas are:

Westpac Retail and Business Banking (RBB)

This includes deposit taking, transaction accounts, credit cards, mortgages, and other lending. Westpac is a major home loan provider and also serves the financial needs of business customers with a turnover of up to $20 million. Investment, superannuation and general and life insurance products are also sold through the branch network. In the past, RBB operated as Consumer Financial Services. The name was changed when all retail products were combined into the one division.

Westpac Institutional Bank (WIB)

Customers include governments, property, financial institutions, and medium to large corporates. In the Australian market, WIB holds a prominent position in providing banking services amongst the big four Australian banks and global investment banks, with an increasing presence in the Asia/Pacific region. Business units within WIB include Corporate and Institutional Banking, Global Transactional Services, Capital and Loan Markets, Financial Markets, Equities, Funds Management, International Operations, WIB Finance, WIB Risk, and WIB Technology.

Product and Operations (P&O)

P&O provides end-to-end banking solutions to small and medium enterprises across Australia.

BT Financial Group

BT Financial Group, Westpac's wealth management division, includes managed investments, life insurance, superannuation and discount broking products in Australia and New Zealand. BT also offers custody and settlement services to institutional customers and fund managers.

Westpac (and BT) has been granted a MySuper authority, enabling it to continue to receive default superannuation contribution from 1 Jan 2014.

St.George Bank Group (including BankSA, Bank of Melbourne and RAMS)

St.George Co-operative Building Society Ltd. was founded in 1937 as a housing-based financial institution, becoming Australia's largest building society before achieving full banking status in July 1992. Westpac merged with St.George on 1 December 2008, but has pledged to keep the branch network for a minimum of 3 years and to maintain a corporate presence in the Sydney suburb of Kogarah.

BankSA is the largest financial institution in South Australia, and the State's main provider of housing, personal finance and rural banking services. It also provides funds management, life and general insurance, and superannuation and investment services. It was acquired by Advance Bank in 1992, and by St.George Bank in 1997 (when it acquired Advance Bank). Westpac acquired BankSA in December 2008 when it merged with St.George Bank; BankSA continues to be a division of St.George Bank.

The Bank of Melbourne was established in 1989 when the RESI Statewide Building Society was granted a banking license. In 1997, it was acquired by Westpac. In 2004, the branches were rebadged as Westpac, however, in 2011 Westpac rebadged the St.George Bank branches in Victoria as Bank of Melbourne.

Westpac acquired RAMS home loans in January 2008 and operates the RAMS distribution business and brands as part of the St.George group.

Westpac New Zealand

In 1861 the Bank of New South Wales opened seven branches in New Zealand. Some of the old buildings still stand, including one in New Zealand government.[8] Currently Westpac is the second largest bank in New Zealand, after the merger of ANZ and National Bank of New Zealand, with around 1.5 million customers, 3,000 shareholders and 197 branches nationwide.

On 29 September 2006 the New Zealand Commerce Commission forced Westpac to pay NZ$5.1 million for hidden foreign transaction fees; most of the fine is reimbursement to affected customers, in the order of 12% of the fees actually charged. All other banks operating in New Zealand have either already been fined or are awaiting a court case.[9]

In October 2009 Westpac Banking Corporation (New Zealand branch) was ordered to pay the Inland Revenue Department (New Zealand) NZ$961 million in avoided taxes.[10]

On July 22, 2014, Westpac publicly announced that they would pilot their Host card emulation (HCE) mobile payments technology to customers. Westpac became the first bank in New Zealand to actively bring HCE mobile payments to market [11] and one of only a handful of banks globally to be using the innovative ‘digital wallet’ technology.

Westpac's three month trial, which uses Carta Worldwide HCE technology, enables customers to securely store and access credit and debit card information in a remote and hosted ‘cloud’ environment, enabling customers to use their Android smartphones as digital wallets.

Soon after, in August 2014, Westpac NZ announced that it would be releasing the world's first augmented bank app,[12] which adds layers of functionality to the digital wallet by enabling users to check account balances, view previous spending bahaviours, pay bills and locate their nearest Westpac NZ branch or ATM. The app is also viewable in a 3D format by supported devices.

Naming rights

Other business units

Servicing the group, the three remaining business units are Group Finance, Human Resources and Group Risk. These are sometimes collectively referred to as the 'Corporate Core'.

ATM Alliance

Westpac is a member of the Global ATM Alliance, a joint venture of several major international banks that allows customers of the banks to use their ATM card or check card at another bank within the Global ATM Alliance with no fees when traveling internationally. Other participating banks are Allied Irish Banks (Ireland), Barclays (in the United Kingdom, Spain and parts of Africa), Bank of America (United States), BNP Paribas (France), Ukrsibbank (Ukraine), Deutsche Bank (in Germany, Spain, Italy, Poland), and Scotiabank (in Canada, Chile, Mexico among many other countries).[13][14]

Westpac branch in Suva, Fiji

Westpac Migrant Banking

This unit of both the Australian and New Zealand Bank offers banking facilities to those migrating to either New Zealand or Australia. Bank accounts for migrants can be opened before people arrive in the country using their easy account opening process. Credit cards and mortgages can even be approved before arrival. Westpac Migrant Banking has a representative office in London where accounts can be arranged, although the process can be done remotely from any country. Westpac plans to open a retail branch in London in 2011.[15]

Pacific Banking

Westpac operates in seven south Pacific nations; the unit is headquartered in Sydney, Australia. The financial services offered include electronic banking (via online banking, ATMs and EFTPOS), deposit, loan, transaction accounts and international trade facilities to personal and business customers. Westpac Fiji is Westpac's Fijian operation. It is one of the largest banks in the country and has a 40% market share.

Banking Alliance for Women

Westpac Pacific Banking is a member of the Global Banking Alliance for Women, supporting initiatives in the Pacific to help women prosper and grow.[16]

Corporate governance

Board of Directors

  • Lindsay Maxsted (Chairman)
  • Gail Kelly (Chief Executive Officer)
  • John Curtis
  • Elizabeth Bryan
  • Gordon Cairns
  • Robert Elstone
  • Peter Hawkins
  • Ann Pickard

Executive Team

  • Gail Kelly (Chief Executive Officer).[17]
  • John Arthur (Chief Operating Officer).[17]
  • Peter Clare (Chief Executive Officer of Westpac New Zealand).[17]
  • Philip Coffey (Chief Financial Officer).[17]
  • Brad Cooper (Chief Executive Officer of the BT Financial Group).[17]
  • George Frazis (Chief Executive Officer of [17]
  • Brian Hartzer (Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Financial Services).[17]
  • Christine Parker (Group Executive of Human Resources & Corporate Affairs).[17]
  • Greg Targett (Chief Risk Officer).[17]
  • Rob Whitfield (Group Executive of Westpac Institutional Bank).[17]
  • Jason Yetton (Group Executive of Westpac Retail & Business Banking).[17]


US Federal reserve borrowings

In 2009, a Westpac owned entity secured US$1.09 billion from the US Federal Reserve. Commentary suggests this was an unusual move for the bank, given its relatively minor position in North America. The borrowings by Westpac occurred at the height of the Global Financial Crisis and was part of a Federal Reserve move to stabilise financial markets globally. The public and Government attention of the borrowings followed the release of the information by the Federal Reserve in 2011, not Westpac.[18][19]

Funding of coal mining in New Zealand

Westpac has recently come under criticism from climate-change organisations in New Zealand for its role in funding mining company Bathurst, which has gained resource consent to mine coal on the Denniston Plateau on the West Coast of the South Island. Opponents have claimed that the mine will release up to 218 million tonnes of carbon dioxide,[20] which will worsen the already-noticeable effects of anthropogenic climate change, as well as significantly damage an important ecosystem. Westpac have largely ignored these claims, despite over one hundred customers leaving the company because of this issue.[21]

Corporate responsibility

In 2002 released a Social Impact Report that outlined the bank's plan to meet the highest international standards in the area of corporate social responsibility. This led to Westpac being assessed as the global sustainability leader for the banking sector in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index from 2004–2007.[22]

Westpac has been criticised for backing logging operations on the Solomon Islands that destroy virgin rainforests.[23] Because of this engagement, the Australian Greens have called for the Banksia Awards to be withdrawn from Westpac.[24]

See also


  1. ^ a b c "Westpac – Fast Facts". Retrieved 13 April 2009. 
  2. ^ a b c "Sound result with customer strategy delivering". Westpac (media release). 30 May 2014. 
  3. ^ by M. J. B. Kenny. "Biography - Edward Smith Hall - Australian Dictionary of Biography". Retrieved 2012-12-25. 
  4. ^ Westpac revives Bank of Melbourne: report, Business Spectator 10 March 2011.
  5. ^ "St George and WBC sign merger deal". 26 May 2008. Retrieved May 2008. 
  6. ^ "Westpac boss hints at more job cuts". 3 February 2012. 
  7. ^ "Westpac deploys Oracle for singular customer view". 4 February 2013. 
  8. ^ [1]
  9. ^ "Westpac to pay $5.1 million over credit card fees, Kiwibank joins list of companies facing charges". Commerce Commission. 29 September 2006. Archived from the original on 27 September 2007. Retrieved 16 January 2007. 
  10. ^ Louisson, Simon (7 October 2009). "Westpac loses NZ Court Tax Case". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 8 October 2009. 
  11. ^ "Westpac trialsTrials HCE Digital Wallet Technology", July 22, 2014.
  12. ^ "Augmented Reality - world first for Westpac customers", August 5, 2014.
  13. ^ "Five big banks form Global ATM Alliance", 9 January 2002. Accessed 22 June 2007.
  14. ^ "Accessing Money Overseas". Westpac. Retrieved 2012-12-25. 
  15. ^ "Westpac expands its presence in London". The Sydney Morning Herald. 5 March 2010. Retrieved 6 March 2010. 
  16. ^ Global Banking Alliance for Women, retrieved 2014-06-16 
  17. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Executive Team
  18. ^ "Australian banks in secret U.S. Fed reserve bail-out..we didnt get told that! « Follow The Money". Retrieved 2012-12-25. 
  19. ^ "NAB, Westpac tapped Fed". The Age (Melbourne). 3 December 2010. 
  20. ^
  21. ^
  22. ^ Keating, B; Quazi, A; Kriz, A; Coltman, T (2008), "In pursuit of a sustainable supply chain: insights from Westpac Banking Corporation",  
  23. ^ Westpac backs logging project, 2012 
  24. ^ Westpac criticised over Solomons logging project, 2012 

Further reading

  • Narube, S. and B.T. Whiteside. 1985. "Financial Institutions and Markets in Fiji". In M. T. Skully, ed. Financial Institutions and Markets in the Southwest Pacific. London: Macmillan Press.
  • Tschoegl, A.E. 2005. Foreign Banks in the Pacific: A Note. Journal of Pacific History.

External links

  • Westpac
  • Westpac New Zealand
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