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Westpac names former ANZ CEO as its new chairman

The Westpac Banking Corp (ASX: WBC) share price will be one to watch on Thursday after the banking giant named its new chairman.

What did Westpac announce?

This morning Australia’s oldest bank announced the appointment of former Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ASX: ANZ) chief executive John McFarlane to the Westpac board as a non-executive director and the chairman-elect.

Mr McFarlane will commence his role as a non-executive director in February, before succeeding the outgoing Lindsay Maxsted on April 2. Mr Maxsted announced his intention to step down at the end of last year along with then-CEO Brian Hartzer following the AUSTRAC scandal.

Mr Maxsted said: “Mr McFarlane is not only well known in Australia and New Zealand, but is a respected banking leader globally who brings to our organisation more than 44 years’ experience in financial services. He has worked across retail and wholesale banking and markets, as well as in life and general insurance, and has board and public service experience in this and other fields.”

The chairman-elect certainly has a lot of experience. McFarlane has spent almost three decades as a main board director of five of the world’s leading financial institutions. This includes as executive and non-executive chairman, chief executive, and executive and non-executive director roles.

He was most recently the chairman of UK-based Barclays. During his four years with the bank, he helped streamline and reposition it for a sustainably return to profit. Prior to this, McFarlane helped to turn around UK insurer Aviva.

“This experience, coupled with his strong customer and employee focus, will be invaluable to Westpac as the organisation executes its strategy and implements its Response Plan for the AUSTRAC Statement of Claim,” Maxsted added.

What now?

As the chairman-elect of Westpac, McFarlane will be responsible for appointing a permanent replacement for its departed CEO, Brian Hartzer.

In the meantime, he will be working closely with the Westpac board and its acting CEO, Peter King. Mr McFarlane appears up for the challenge.

He said: “People close to me know that on my return to Australia, I hadn’t intended to take another major leadership role. However, I’m passionate about the Australian banking sector, and I’m excited by the challenge of returning Westpac to its place as a leading global bank, following recent events.”

“My focus initially will naturally be on resolving the company’s current issues but equally important, to position it as quickly as possible for long-term success. Fortunately, Westpac has wonderful core customer franchises, each with significant opportunity,” added McFarlane.

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Motley Fool contributor James Mickleboro owns shares of Westpac Banking. The Motley Fool Australia has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Scott Phillips.

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