WBC 0.51% $23.57 westpac banking corporation

Westpac nabs Pratt for the Pacific

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    Westpac nabs Pratt for the Pacific
    By Sharon Kemp
    April 30 2002

    Westpac is re-establishing the NZ and Pacific division for Mike Pratt.

    Westpac will miss announcing a sale of AGC for more than $1 billion at Thursday's result, but will signal the appointment yesterday of former National Australia Bank high-flyer Mike Pratt as marking the end of last year's exodus of executives.

    Westpac said it had appointed New Zealand-born Mr Pratt to run its NZ and Pacific banking, the latter being set for expansion.

    Its share price rose immediately on the news but ended 16 cents lower at $16.35 in line with falls in other major banks.

    Analysts said the appointment was a coup for Westpac, whose management is considered the weakest of the four majors. The bank suffered an unusually high level of senior executive and middle management attrition during 2000-01.

    Mr Pratt has international experience and headed NAB's Australian retail financial services, where he was crucial as a link between head office and the bank branches.

    He left NAB when chief executive Frank Cicutto announced a management overhaul. It is said to have occurred after Mr Pratt argued that NAB should take responsibility for its $3.6 billion HomeSide losses in the United States.

    At Westpac he will take over an operation that was headed by Harry Price until his retirement last year and then placed in the institutional division.

    Westpac CEO David Morgan has separated the NZ and Pacific business, and the institutional division now stands alone.

    The global head of financial markets, Phil Coffey, will take over the institutional business, leaving David Willis free to take a sabbatical until 2003.

    Westpac is expected to announce a net profit of more than $1 billion on Thursday and a double-digit rise in cash earnings per share.

    Analysts say its sale of AGC to GE Capital would add further interest, but the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is holding up the transaction while it explores competition issues.

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