Westpac (a portmanteau of
"Western-Pacific", registered as Westpac Banking
Corporation, , ), is a multinational Financial services company and became the
largest bank in Australia (by market capitalisation) after it took
over St George., and, the second-largest bank in New Zealand.
- This article is about the bank. For the defunct
airline, see Western Pacific
The bank is one of the Australian 'big four
' banks, joining NAB
, and the
As of the merger with St.George in December 2008 the bank has 10
million customers, Australia's largest branch network with almost
1200 branches and an ATM network with more than 2800 ATMs. The bank
is Australia's second largest provider of home lending and
Australia's second largest provider of wealth platforms by funds
under Administration. The bank is Australia's second largest
business banking lender and Australia's second largest bank by
Westpac was recognised by the Dow Jones Sustainability Index as the
most sustainable bank in the world for five years running, until
shared the title in 2007 was solely awarded in 2008.
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
.In the past, RBB
operated as Consumer Financial Services. The name was changed when
all retail products were combined into the one division.
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
St.George 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.
Westpac acquired RAMS home loans in January 2008 and operates the
RAM's distribution business and brands separately.
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.Westpac acquired BankSA in December 2008. It continues to
be a division of St.George Bank.
Westpac New Zealand
the Bank of New South Wales opened seven branches
Zealand. Some of the old buildings still stand,
including one in Oamaru and another
Today this unit offers a whole range of
consumer and corporate services to clients throughout New Zealand.
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
. 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
On September 29, 2006 Westpac was forced to pay NZ$
5.1 million by the New Zealand Commerce Commission
over 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.
In October 2009
New Zealand was ordered to pay the Inland Revenue
NZ$961 million in avoided taxes.
Business Technology Solutions and Services (BTSS) was Westpac's
technology and services arm. It incorporates Westpac's internal IT
business units, transformation teams, the bank's operations centres
and other support services. These teams have moved to either
Product & Operations, Retail and Business Banking, Corporate or
to the newly created division "Westpac Technology"
Other Business Units
Servicing the group, the three remaining business units are Group
Finance, People & Performance (Westpac's name for Human
Resources), and Group Risk. These are sometimes grouped and
referred to as Corporate Core.
Westpac is a member of the Global
, 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 Barclays (United Kingdom), Bank of America
States), BNP Paribas (France), China Construction Bank (China), Deutsche Bank (Germany), Grupo Santander (Mexico) and
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
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 allows the process to be done
remotely from any country.
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
It is one one of the largest banks in the country
and has a 40% market share.
Established in Sydney in 1817, the
Bank of New South Wales was the first bank in Australia.
Edward Smith Hall
was the first
cashier and secretary
. During the 19th and early 20th century, the
Bank opened branches first throughout Australia and Oceania, at
Bay (Brisbane) in 1850, then in Victoria (1851), New Zealand (1861), South Australia (1877), Western Australia (1883), Fiji (1901),
Guinea (1910) and Tasmania (1910).
- 1927: BNSW acquired the Western Australian
BNSW acquired the Australian Bank of Commerce,
which had branches in both New South Wales and Queensland.
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
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.
It established a branch in the New Hebrides. The next year HSBC and
Commercial Bank of
Australia (see below) also established branches.
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
BNSW incorporated its local business in Papua New Guinea as Bank of New South Wales(PNG).
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.
- 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. As of 2008, this mission has not been
accomplished. The brandname incorporated the "W" which had been the
logo of the Bank of New South Wales (popularly known as "the
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
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
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
- 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
- 1996: WBC Holdings NZ bought TrustBanks, 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.
WBC acquired Bank of Melbourne in Victoria, paying an estimated price in excess of
A$1.4b. Although WBC retained the rights to the Bank of
Melbourne name and logos, as of 2006 the brand has disappeared
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.
- 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
- 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. WBC announced that it
intended to acquire the 5th largest Australian bank, St.George Bank, for AUD$19 billion. About 95 percent of St
George shareholders voted in favor of the merger.
- 2008: On 17 November, the Federal Court of Australia
approved the merger of Westpac and St.George.
- 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:
- Tschoegl, A.E. 2005. Foreign Banks in the Pacific: A Note.
Journal of Pacific History.