The very first thought which popped to mind as I heard this story on the way home was, “Was her head-hunting purposely planned?”
The coincidence of Gail Kelly jumping ship from Straight Gorge Bank to Wank Bank, combined with today’s announcement of a proposed ‘merger’ of the two three months later, beggars the imagination should anyone attempt to claim this announcement hasn’t been in the making for much longer.
As a survivor of the NBA-CBC merger of 1982 (that’s National Bank of Australasia Limited and Commercial Banking Company of Sydney Limited for those of you too young to remember), I can only too keenly identify with the sense of trepidation employees of Straight Gorge would be feeling tonight. In that earlier merger – yes, the italics do indicate that I never believed the hooplah ladled out by senior executives, and with good reason – all manner of promises were made regarding benefits for shareholders, customers and staff, in that order, which didn’t materialise for anyone other than the first of that trio.. The CBC was a much more staff and customer oriented entity, while the NBA was purely & simply shareholder oriented. As it is today. Nothing has changed. A banking giant simply devoured on an industry minnow.
The CBC had, for it’s time, an advanced I.T. system. The NBA’s wasn’t bad either, but not a patch on the CBC’s. The CBC staff were, quite frankly, shafted at every turn. Placed second in relation to their NBA colleagues when transfers and promotions came to be assessed, which translates in the banking world directly into money. The tactics were deliberate, with a huge number of CBC staff resigning, which was undoubtedly the desired result. Whilst I wasn’t involved in the Bank of NSW-Commercial Bank of Australia merger, which took place around the same time, I understand similar tactics were employed by Wank Bank management.
Oh, and why am I jaundiced about the talk of merger between Straight Gorge and Wank Bank? In finance, merger is a euphemism for take-over which is used to placate the passionate or nervous shareholder. On page 52 of the 1982 annual report of the ‘merged’ National Bank of Australasia Limited/National Commercial Banking Corporation of Australia Limited (is it any wonder the name changed?) – the last/first one – stated quite clearly that at an extraordinary meeting of the board of directors it was decided that the Commercial Banking Company of Sydney Limited should become a wholly owned subsidiary of the National Bank of Australasia Limited, under the auspices of the merged entity. A take-over by any other definition.
Were I employed as a counter-jumper in a Straight Gorge Bank retail branch, I’d be very concerned. All the platitudes being uttered by Gail Kelly about benefits for staff are undiluted fabrications.