ANZ targets Gonski for chairman

According to The Australian Financial Review, current ANZ (ASX: ANZ) chairman, John Morschel, is looking for candidates to replace him in 2015. ANZ wants someone with experience in Asia and a reputation for success to lead the bank on its expansion overseas.

David Gonski is one candidate who has been approached by the bank but it seems almost certain he’ll need to renounce some of his other roles if he is to take on the leadership position. Mr Gonski, a former ANZ board member, is the current chairman of the $89 billion Future Fund and is on the boards of both Coca-Cola Amatil (ASX: CCL) and Singapore Telecommunications (ASX: SGT).

His workload is immense but his experience is what ANZ is seeking. His time spent on the “Future Fund and SingTel boards, as well as his time as a director of Singapore Airlines, makes him an attractive candidate for a company seeking directors with Asian experience,” according to AFR.

Trying to juggle the responsibility of a big four bank and the Future Fund would be impossible and has prompted rumours that he will hand over his role at the Future Fund to former federal treasurer Peter Costello. Mr Costello founded the fund in 2006 but was denied from becoming its leader last year by the Gillard government. However with a Coalition government in power it looks likely he’ll take the reins from Mr Gonski.

Although ANZ shareholders voted for a three-year extension of Mr Morschel’s chairmanship last year, it is believed he wants to initiate a board succession plan that would allow him to step down as soon as mid-2014.

Foolish takeaway

Mr Gonski’s experience in Asia and at ANZ between 2004 and 2007 makes him an ideal candidate for the top job. Although Mr Gonski’s  experience in Asia was somewhat blemished by a rejected $8 billion merger between the ASX and Singapore Exchange, shareholders will be hoping the bank can secure him as leader as it deals with many outgoing directors and it remains difficult to find leaders with experience throughout Asia.

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Motley Fool contributor Owen Raszkiewicz does not have a financial interest in any of the mentioned companies.  

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