News is flying around Australia today of the Commonweath Bank's buying of BankWest, a West Australian bank owned by the British HBOS group. As a result, the expansion of new branches into the eastern states will cease according to an ABC News report:
The chief executive of the Commonwealth Bank, Ralph Norris, has confirmed that the rollout of BankWest branches on the east coast will stop as a result of the $2 billion takeover.
Mr Norris has described BankWest as a leader in the growing Western Australian market and a good investment for CBA shareholders.
Mr Norris says there will be no closures of both Commonwealth or BankWest branches and businesses in Western Australia as a result of the acquisition.
Last year, BankWest launched a program to open 160 branches nationwide, but today Mr Norris said he will review BankWest operations in the east.
“I would suggest that the branch rollout would cease,” he said.
Given Australia's banks are in good shape and the British banks are suffereing as a result of the subprime mortgage crisis, I suspected the buyout was just a result of opportunistic buying. The last line in an ABC News report said it all though:
Mr Norris says a merged BankWest-CBA will be bigger than the Westpac-St George entity.
Aha! This is just a tactic so you can keep calling yourselves number 1 after Westpac buys St George and BankSA! You shrewd, shrewd bankers ;-).