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Thursby Exit Won’t Derail Asian Growth Strategy, ANZ Says

Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd. (ANZ) said the departure of Alex Thursby, who spearheaded an Asian expansion, won’t alter its growth plans in the region.

“We have the pedal pressed to the ground,” Chief Executive Officer Mike Smith said in a telephone interview today. “Nothing has changed in terms of strategy.”

Thursby, chief executive officer for international and institutional banking at ANZ, will leave at the end of the month to head a Middle Eastern bank, the lender said in a regulatory filing today. Australia’s third-biggest bank by market value has the nation’s most aggressive expansion plans in Asia, seeking as much as 30 percent of profits from outside Australia and New Zealand by 2017.

ANZ shares fell 1.1 percent to A$28.50 as of 12:01 p.m. in Sydney, while the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index fell 0.2 percent.

The lender’s earnings from its overseas units increased three-fold since 2007, the year Thursby joined, it said in December. The businesses provided 16 percent of earnings in the last financial year, filings show.

“ANZ is pretty well connected in Asia now and can easily attract candidates” to replace Thursby, said Chris Hall, an Adelaide-based senior investment officer at fund manager Argo Investments Ltd. (ARG) “I don’t think it will hurt their Asian plans.”

CEO Aspirations

Thursby was seen as having aspirations to lead ANZ when Smith steps down, Hall said. Smith joined ANZ in 2007.

“Alex Thursby has been one of ANZ’s most senior and highly regarded executives,” Stephen Ries, a Melbourne-based spokesman for ANZ, said by e-mail. “His decision to leave ANZ is a personal one.”

Gilles Plante, CEO for the Asia-Pacific region, and Steve Bellotti, managing director for global markets and loans, will take over Thursby’s duties on an interim basis from May 1, ANZ Bank said. The lender will consider internal and external candidates to replace him, it said.

Thursby spent 20 years at Standard Chartered Plc (STAN) before joining ANZ as Group Managing Director of Asia Pacific. He took responsibility for the bank’s European and American businesses in October 2008 and was given the international and institutional banking role in March last year, according to ANZ’s website.

ANZ did not specify the name of the bank Thursby would lead. He served as Standard Chartered’s CEO of the United Arab Emirates between 1999 and 2001, according to ANZ’s website.

To contact the reporters on this story: Nichola Saminather in Sydney at; Narayanan Somasundaram in Sydney at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Edward Johnson at

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