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Westpac Banking Corporation
Traded asASXWBC
IndustryBanking, financial services
PredecessorBank of New South Wales
Commercial Bank of Australia
Founded1817; 202 years ago (1817) (as Bank of New South Wales)
1982; 37 years ago (1982) (as Westpac Banking Corporation)
HeadquartersWestpac Place, Sydney
Number of locations
1,204 branches
3,222 ATMs
Area served
Key people
Brian Hartzer (CEO and Managing Director)
Lindsay Maxsted (Chairman)
ProductsFinance and insurance, consumer banking, corporate banking, investment banking, investment management, global wealth management, private equity, mortgages, credit cards
RevenueIncrease A$ 21.642 billion (2015)[1]
Increase A$ 8.012 billion (2015)[1]
Total assetsIncrease A$ 879.592 billion (2018)
Number of employees
35,029 (2018)[2]

Westpac Banking Corporation, more commonly known as Westpac, is an Australian bank and financial-services provider headquartered at Westpac Place in Sydney[3]. It is one of Australia's "big four" banks. Its name is a portmanteau of "Western" and "Pacific". It is also Australia’s first and oldest bank, established in 1817.

As of March 2018, Westpac has 14 million customers, and employs almost 40,000 people[4]. Westpac’s vision is to be one of the world’s great service companies, helping customers, communities and people to prosper and grow. In 2017, Westpac was recognised as the most sustainable bank globally in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index; the fourth year in a row.[4]


Established in Sydney in 1817, the Bank of New South Wales (BNSW) was the first bank in Australia. Edward Smith Hall was its first cashier and secretary.[5] 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).

  • 1927: BNSW acquired the Western Australian Bank.
  • 1931: BNSW acquired the Australian Bank of Commerce, which had branches in both New South Wales and Queensland.
  • 1942: BNSW suspended operations in Papua New Guinea as the Japanese Army captured many of the towns in which it had branches and agencies, and bombed Port Moresby. It resumed operations in 1946.
  • 1968: BNSW joins Databank Systems Limited consortium to provide joint data processing services.
  • 1970: BNSW established a branch on Tarawa in Kiribati (ex-Gilbert Islands), which also took over the government savings bank. Also, the company first became listed on 18 July 1970.
  • 1971: It established a branch in the New Hebrides. The next year HSBC and Commercial Bank of Australia (see below) also established branches.
  • 1973: BNSW became the corporate sponsor of the Rescue Helicopter service started by Surf Life Saving Australia. The service is known today as the Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter Service
  • 1974: The Bank of New Zealand (20%), BNSW (20%), Bank of Hawaii (20%), and the government of Tonga (40%) established Bank of Tonga as a joint venture.
  • 1975: BNSW incorporated its local business in Papua New Guinea as Bank of New South Wales (PNG).
  • 1977: BNSW formed Pacific Commercial Bank in Samoa as a joint venture with Bank of Hawaii, buying into Pacific Savings and Loan Company (est. 1969), in which Bank of Hawaii had had an ownership interest since 1971.

Westpac is formed[edit]

  • 1982: BNSW merged with the Commercial Bank of Australia and changed their name to 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[citation needed] to sustain its viability. In the process WBC came close to insolvency, and slipped from being Australia's largest to third largest bank.[citation needed]
  • 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.[6]
  • 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 St George Bank CEO Gail Kelly appointed chief executive officer and managing director.
  • 2008: WBC announced that it intended to merge with the 5th largest Australian bank, St George Bank, for A$19 billion.[7] The holders of about 95% of St George's shares voted in favour of the merger.
  • 2008: On 17 November, the 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.[8]

Core business activities[edit]

The structure involves five key divisions including: Consumer Bank, Commercial and Business Bank, BT Financial Group, Westpac Institutional Bank and Westpac New Zealand. These five divisions serve more than 13 million customers.

Consumer Bank[edit]

Consumer Bank is responsible for sales and service of its 9 million consumer customers in Australia, assisting them with their everyday banking needs. The division covers all consumer banking products and services under the Westpac, St George, BankSA, Bank of Melbourne and RAMS brands.

Activities are conducted through the Consumer Bank’s nationwide network of 1,429 branches, third-party distributors, call centres, 3,850 ATMs, EFTPOS terminals and internet banking services.

Business Bank[edit]

The Business Bank is responsible for sales and service of its small-to-medium enterprise, commercial and agribusiness customers in Australia, as well as asset and equipment finance and operates under the Westpac, St George Bank, BankSA and Bank of Melbourne brands.

Business and corporate customers (businesses with facilities typically up to $150 million) are provided with a wide range of banking and financial products and services, including specialist advice for cash flow finance, trade finance, automotive and equipment finance, property finance, transaction banking and treasury services. Sales and service activities for business and corporate customers are conducted by relationship managers via business banking centres, internet and customer service centre channels.

BT Financial Group[edit]

BT Financial Group (BTFG) is the wealth management arm of the Westpac Group, which, following the merger with St George Bank, also includes the wealth division of St George.

BTFG designs, creates and distributes financial products that are designed to help its customers achieve their financial goals by administering, managing and protecting their assets.

Funds Management operations include the manufacture and distribution of investment, superannuation and retirement products, investment platforms including BT Wrap and Asgard, private banking, financial planning as well as equity capability and broking. Insurance solutions cover the manufacturing and distribution of life, general and lenders mortgage insurance.

Westpac Institutional Bank[edit]

Westpac Institutional Bank (WIB) delivers a broad range of financial services to commercial, corporate, institutional and government customers.

WIB operates through dedicated industry relationship and specialist product teams, with expert knowledge in transactional banking, financial and debt capital markets, specialised capital, margin lending, broking and alternative investment solutions.

Customers are supported through operations in Australia, New Zealand, the US, the UK, and Asian centres.

Westpac New Zealand[edit]

In 1861 the Bank of New South Wales opened seven branches in New Zealand. Currently, Westpac NZ offers a full-service with around 1.5 million customers, 3,000 shareholders and 197 branches nationwide. It is the dominant provider of banking services to small to medium business, corporate and institutional organisations, and is the banker of the New Zealand government.[9] It currently is the second largest bank in New Zealand, after the merger of ANZ and National Bank of New Zealand.

On 29 September 2006 the New Zealand Commerce Commission fined Westpac NZ$5.1 million for hidden foreign transaction fees, with most of the fine being reimbursement to affected customers, in the order of 12% of the fees actually charged. All other banks operating in New Zealand had either already been fined or were awaiting a court case.[10]

In October 2009, Westpac NZ was required to pay NZ$961 million to the Inland Revenue Department (New Zealand) in avoided taxes.[11]

On 22 July 2014, Westpac NZ announced that it would pilot a host card emulation (HCE) mobile payments technology to customers. It was the first bank in New Zealand to actively bring HCE mobile payments to market [12] and one of only a handful of banks globally to be using the innovative ‘digital wallet’ technology. The three-month trial, which used 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,[13] which adds layers of functionality to the digital wallet by enabling users to check account balances, view previous spending behaviours, 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[edit]

ATM Alliance[edit]

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 UK, Spain and parts of Africa), Bank of America (US), BNP Paribas (France), Ukrsibbank (Ukraine), Deutsche Bank (in Germany, Spain, Italy, Poland), and Scotiabank (in Canada, Chile, Mexico among many other countries).[14][15]

Westpac branch in Suva, Fiji

Westpac Migrant Banking[edit]

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.[16]

Pacific Banking[edit]

Westpac operates in seven south Pacific nations; the unit is headquartered in Sydney. 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[edit]

Westpac Pacific Banking is a member of the Global Banking Alliance for Women, supporting initiatives in the Pacific to help women prosper and grow.[17]

Corporate governance[edit]

Board of directors[edit]

  • Lindsay Maxsted (chairman)
  • Brian Hartzer (chief executive officer)
  • Nerida Caesar
  • Ewen Crouch
  • Alison Deans
  • Craig Dunn
  • Peter Hawkins
  • Peter Marriot
  • Peter Nash

Executive team[edit]

  • Brian Hartzer (chief executive officer).[18]
  • Peter King (chief financial officer).[18]
  • David McLean (chief executive officer, Westpac New Zealand).[18]
  • Brad Cooper (CEO of the BT Financial Group).[18]
  • George Frazis (chief executive, Consumer Bank).[18]
  • Dave Curran (chief information officer).[18]
  • Christine Parker (group executive, Human Resources, Corporate Affairs & Sustainability).[18]
  • David Lindberg (chief executive, Commercial and Business Bank).[18]
  • Alexandra Holcomb (chief risk officer).[18]
  • Lyn Cobley (chief executive, Westpac Institutional Bank).[18]
  • Gary Thursby (chief strategy officer).[18]
  • Rebecca Lim (group executive, Compliance, Legal & Secretariat)
  • Carolyn McCann (group executive, Customer & Corporate Relations)


Manipulation of benchmark interest rates[edit]

In 2016 Westpac was mentioned in a lawsuit by Australian Securities and Investments Commission for manipulation of Australian benchmark interest rates.[19]

US Federal Reserve borrowings[edit]

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.[20][21]

Funding of coal mining in New Zealand[edit]

Westpac has recently[when?] 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,[22] which will worsen the 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.[23]

Corporate responsibility[edit]

In 2002 Westpac released a social impact report that outlined the bank's plan to meet international standards in the area of corporate social responsibility. This led to Westpac's assessment as the global sustainability leader for the banking sector in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index from 2004 to 2007.[24]

Westpac has been criticised for backing logging operations on the Solomon Islands that destroy virgin rainforests.[25] Because of this engagement, the Australian Greens have called for the Banksia Awards to be withdrawn from Westpac.[26]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Annual Report 2015" (PDF). Westpac Group. 2 November 2015. Retrieved 14 February 2016.
  2. ^ "Westpac – Fast Facts". Archived from the original on 31 March 2016. Retrieved 31 March 2016.
  3. ^ https://www.westpac.com.au/about-westpac/global-locations/westpac-australia/
  4. ^ a b "Westpac Interim Results 2018" (PDF).
  5. ^ M. J. B. Kenny. "Biography - Edward Smith Hall - Australian Dictionary of Biography". Adb.online.anu.edu.au. Archived from the original on 24 May 2011. Retrieved 25 December 2012.
  6. ^ Westpac revives Bank of Melbourne: report Archived 6 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine, Business Spectator 10 March 2011.
  7. ^ "St George and WBC sign merger deal". NEWS.com.au. 26 May 2008. Archived from the original on 27 May 2008. Retrieved 23 June 2008.
  8. ^ "Westpac boss hints at more job cuts". 3 February 2012. Archived from the original on 4 February 2012.
  9. ^ [1] Archived 15 January 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  10. ^ "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.
  11. ^ Louisson, Simon (7 October 2009). "Westpac loses NZ Court Tax Case". Wall Street Journal. Archived from the original on 23 December 2015. Retrieved 8 October 2009.
  12. ^ "Westpac trialsTrials HCE Digital Wallet Technology" Archived 26 March 2015 at the Wayback Machine, 22 July 2014.
  13. ^ "Augmented Reality - world first for Westpac customers" Archived 27 September 2014 at the Wayback Machine, 5 August 2014.
  14. ^ "Five big banks form Global ATM Alliance" Archived 7 May 2007 at the Wayback Machine, ATMmarketplace.com. 9 January 2002. Accessed 22 June 2007.
  15. ^ "Accessing Money Overseas". Westpac. Archived from the original on 23 December 2012. Retrieved 25 December 2012.
  16. ^ "Westpac expands its presence in London". The Sydney Morning Herald. 5 March 2010. Archived from the original on 23 March 2010. Retrieved 6 March 2010.
  17. ^ Global Banking Alliance for Women, retrieved 2014-06-16
  18. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "Executive team - Westpac". www.westpac.com.au. Archived from the original on 5 October 2015.
  19. ^ Commission, c=au;o=Australian Government;ou=Australian Government Australian Securities and Investments. "16-110MR ASIC commences civil penalty proceedings against Westpac for BBSW conduct". asic.gov.au. Archived from the original on 7 April 2016. Retrieved 7 April 2016.
  20. ^ "Australian banks in secret U.S. Fed reserve bail-out..we didnt get told that! « Follow The Money". Seeker401.wordpress.com. Archived from the original on 14 April 2013. Retrieved 25 December 2012.
  21. ^ "NAB, Westpac tapped Fed". The Age. Melbourne. 3 December 2010. Archived from the original on 10 September 2011.
  22. ^ "Westpac – Denniston Coal". 350.org.nz. Archived from the original on 3 May 2014.
  23. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2 May 2014. Retrieved 30 April 2014.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  24. ^ Keating, B; Quazi, A; Kriz, A; Coltman, T (2008), "In pursuit of a sustainable supply chain: insights from Westpac Banking Corporation", Supply Chain Management: an International Journal, 13 (3): 175–79
  25. ^ Westpac backs logging project, 2012, archived from the original on 9 November 2012
  26. ^ Westpac criticised over Solomons logging project, 2012, archived from the original on 3 November 2013

Further reading[edit]

  • 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[edit]