Westpac Banking Corporation
Type Public
Traded as ASXWBC
Industry Finance and insurance
Predecessor Bank of NSW (est. 1817)
Founded 1982 as Westpac
Headquarters Sydney, Australia
Number of locations 1,200 branches
2,800 ATMs [1]
Area served Australia
New Zealand
Papua New Guinea
Solomon Islands
Hong Kong
United States
United Kingdom
Key people Gail Kelly (CEO and Managing director)
Ted Evans (Chairman)
Products Banking, financial and related services
Net income increase A$6.991 billion (2011) [2]
Total assets increase A$870 billion (2011) [3]
Employees ≈40,000 (2008) [1]
Website www.westpac.com.au

Westpac (a portmanteau of "Western-Pacific", registered as Westpac Banking Corporation, ASXWBC, NZX: WBC), is a multinational financial services, one of the Australian "big four" banks and the second-largest bank in New Zealand.

As of November 2011, Westpac has 12.2 million customers, Australia's largest branch network with almost 1200 branches and a 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 assets.[1]

Westpac was recognised by the Dow Jones Sustainability Index as the most sustainable bank in the world for five years running, until ANZ who shared the title in 2007 was solely awarded in 2008.[4]


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 branch network. In the past, RBB operated as Consumer Financial Services. The name was changed when all retail products were combined into the one division.

Westpac Institutional Bank (WIB)

The Institutional Bank, which contributed 26% of Westpac's total earnings in 2010, provides advisory and wholesale banking services to Westpac's corporate and institutional customers.[citation needed] Customers include governments, property, financial institutions, and medium to large corporates. In the Australian market, WIB holds a prominent position in providing banking services amongst the big four Australian banks and global investment banks, with an increasing presence in the Asia/Pacific region. Business units within WIB include Corporate and Institutional Banking, Global Transactional Services, Capital and Loan Markets, Financial Markets, Equities, Funds Management, International Operations, WIB Finance, WIB Risk, and WIB Technology.

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 managers.

St.George Bank Group(including BankSA, Bank of Melbourne and RAMS)

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.

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 acquired RAMS home loans in January 2008 and operates the RAMS distribution business and brands as part of the St.George group.

Westpac New Zealand

In 1861 the Bank of New South Wales opened seven branches in New Zealand. Some of the old buildings still stand, including one in Oamaru and another in Tokomaru Bay. 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 government.[5] 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 branches nationwide.

On 29 September 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.[6]

In October 2009 Westpac Banking Corporation (New Zealand branch) was ordered to pay the Inland Revenue Department (New Zealand) NZ$961 million in avoided taxes.[7]

Naming rights

Former/defunct divisions

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, Human Resources and Group Risk. These are sometimes collectively referred to as the 'Corporate Core'.

ATM Alliance

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 Barclays (United Kingdom), Bank of America (United States), BNP Paribas (France), Ukrsibbank (Ukraine), China Construction Bank (China), Deutsche Bank (Germany), Grupo Santander (Spain) and Scotiabank (Canada).[8]

Westpac branch in Suva, Fiji

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 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.[9]

Pacific Banking

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 Westpac's Fijian operation. It is one of the largest banks in the country and has a 40% market share.


WBC headquarters in Sydney

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. [10] 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.
  • 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. 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 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.
  • 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. It has been announced that the Bank of Melbourne brand will return in August 2011,[11] with a network of up to 100 branches in Victoria.
  • 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
  • 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 A$19 billion.[12] 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.
  • 2008 & 2009: Secret funds are secured from the Federal Reserve of USD$1.09. (see Secret Bailout 2007 & 2008)
  • 2011: During July Bank Of Melbourne started operations taking over St.George in the state of Victoria.


In December 2009, Westpac raised its rates on variable mortgages by 0.45%, more than the Reserve Bank's official rate rise of 0.25%.[13] Westpac justified the move on increased costs of funding, using an analogy with the price of bananas to explain the reasons to its customers.[14] The move drew considerable criticism, with the Prime Minister Kevin Rudd suggesting the bank should take "a long hard look at itself",[15] and other major banks such as NAB, who raised rates in line with the Reserve Bank, attacking Westpac for its move.[16]

US Federal reserve borrowings

In January 2008 and 2009 Westpac secured US$1.09 billion from the Federal Reserve in secret dealings without the knowledge of the public or the Australian government. It is believed that if the Federal Reserve did not bailout out the bank, then the bank would have been bailed out by the Reserve Bank of Australia.[17][18]

Corporate social responsibility

Westpac has been described as one of the world's most socially responsible banks, and in 2002 released a Social Impact Report that outlined the bank's plan to meet the highest international standards in the area of corporate social responsibility. This led to Westpac being assessed as the global sustainability leader for the banking sector in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index from 2004–2007.[19]

See also

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  • 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.


  1. ^ a b c "Westpac – Fast Facts". http://www.westpac.com.au/internet/publish.nsf/Content/WICP+Company+profile. Retrieved 13 April 2009. [dead link]
  2. ^ http://www.westpac.com.au/docs/pdf/aw/ic/2011_Full_Year_Result_Media_Release.pdf
  3. ^ http://www.westpac.com.au/docs/pdf/aw/ic/2011_Full_Year_Result_Media_Release.pdf
  4. ^ ANZ ranked world's most sustainable bank – Second year in a row, By Julie May, 9 Sep 2008, InvestorDaily
  5. ^ [1]
  6. ^ "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. http://web.archive.org/web/20070927022845/http://www.comcom.govt.nz/FairTrading/westpactopay51millionovercreditcar.aspx. Retrieved 16 January 2007. 
  7. ^ Louisson, Simon (7 October 2009). "Westpac loses NZ Court Tax Case". Wall Street Journal. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB125497111865472573.html. Retrieved 8 October 2009. 
  8. ^ "Five big banks form Global ATM Alliance", ATMmarketplace.com. 9 January 2002. Accessed 22 June 2007.
  9. ^ "Westpac expands its presence in London". The Sydney Morning Herald. 5 March 2010. http://news.smh.com.au/breaking-news-business/westpac-expands-its-presence-in-london-20100305-pm5l.html. Retrieved 6 March 2010. 
  10. ^ [2]
  11. ^ Westpac revives Bank of Melbourne: report, Business Spectator 10 March 2011.
  12. ^ "St George and WBC sign merger deal, NEWS.com.au"]. 26 May 2008. http://www.news.com.au/business/story/0,23636,23759042-462,00.html. Retrieved May 2008. 
  13. ^ AAP (1 December 2009). "Westpac raises home loan rate by 45bps". The Sydney Morning Herald. http://news.smh.com.au/breaking-news-business/westpac-raises-home-loan-rate-by-45bps-20091201-k38x.html. Retrieved 4 March 2010. 
  14. ^ Lee, Julian (10 December 2009). "Westpac goes bananas with email on rationale behind rate rise". The Sydney Morning Herald. http://www.smh.com.au/business/westpac-goes-bananas-with-email-on-rationale-behind-rate-rise-20091208-khog.html. Retrieved 4 March 2010. 
  15. ^ "Rudd blasts Westpac over banana slip". The Sydney Morning Herald. 9 December 2009. http://www.smh.com.au/business/rudd-blasts-westpac-over-banana-slip-20091209-kim9.html. Retrieved 4 March 2010. 
  16. ^ Rolfe, John (3 December 2009). "NAB raises rates, attacks Westpac". The Daily Telegraph. http://www.couriermail.com.au/news/national/nab-raises-rates-attacks-westpac/story-e6freooo-1225806727074. Retrieved 4 March 2010. .
  17. ^ http://seeker401.wordpress.com/2011/09/26/australian-banks-in-secret-u-s-fed-reserve-bail-out-we-didnt-get-told-that/
  18. ^ http://www.theage.com.au/business/nab-westpac-tapped-fed-20101202-18i58.html
  19. ^ 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): 175–179 

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