|Bid||11.59 x 900|
|Ask||12.85 x 800|
|Day's range||11.51 - 11.79|
|52-week range||7.98 - 20.36|
|Beta (5Y monthly)||0.81|
|PE ratio (TTM)||6.83|
|Forward dividend & yield||N/A (N/A)|
|Ex-dividend date||08 Nov 2019|
|1y target est||15.96|
Divestiture of the Vendor Finance business is part of Westpac Banking's (WBK) efforts to move away from non-core operations amid coronavirus scare.
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- Rockers Van Halen had an infamous way of spotting problems when they were setting up for live gigs.Tour riders at concerts would request bowls of M&Ms backstage with all the brown candies removed. Rather than a symptom of rock-‘n’-roll excess, the demand was a test for venue managers setting up the band’s elaborate shows, according to vocalist David Lee Roth. If brown M&Ms were present, it was a signal that electrical, audio and safety issues might have been skimped on, too.There’s a lesson in that for David Murray, the veteran Australian banker who resigned Monday as chairman of ailing fund manager AMP Ltd.Murray is a former chief executive officer of Commonwealth Bank of Australia and author of a 2014 official report into the country’s financial system. He was brought in just over two years ago as part of a board clean-out to address scandals arising from a government inquiry by High Court judge Kenneth Hayne, including charging life insurance fees to dead people and lying to the corporate regulator. Murray has been brought down by his insouciant approach to an entirely different outrage: reports in the Australian Financial Review that an executive who’d seen his bonus docked after settling a sexual harassment complaint had been promoted to head AMP’s investment management unit. Director John Fraser will also leave, AMP said Monday, and the company’s Australia boss quit without explanation last month.For several years, Murray has used his position as a lion of the country’s financial industry to oppose regulators seeking to draw links between general misconduct and their core oversight activities.A push by government agencies to more closely scrutinize the internal behavior of companies was overreach that would lessen competition because “you can’t regulate for culture,” he said shortly before starting at AMP. “The distinctive culture of one organization is part of its competitive advantage,” he argued in 2016.Let’s set aside what the current case and resulting internal revolt among employees say about AMP’s “distinctive culture” and the extent to which it’s a competitive advantage. The lasting lesson should be that regulators tasked with ensuring a stable and honest corporate sector are quite right to take a holistic view of the way a company runs itself, by peeking into the metaphorical M&Ms bowl for tell-tale signs of bad behavior. After all, the real test of a company isn’t so much whether sexual harassment occurs in the workplace, but how management handles it. A company that promotes someone whose pay was reportedly docked A$500,000 ($358,000) in settlement of a case involving a subordinate isn’t sending a message that women are valued. Nor is it signaling that credible complaints from lower-ranking employees will provoke any introspection. Instead, it’s telling those with qualms about internal practices that their worries will more likely be quashed and ignored.That’s precisely the cultural problem running through the Australian financial services industry. Quite apart from the practices revealed in the Hayne Royal Commission and the current sexual harassment case, there have been other examples involving breach of money-laundering laws by Commonwealth Bank and Westpac Banking Corp. and attempts to manipulate the country’s lending-rate benchmark.The symptoms of the rot look similar in multiple cases: turning a blind eye to misconduct; giving more credibility to those viewed as “profit centers”; a lack of scrutiny by boards and management; dishonesty and obfuscation when caught out. Regulators are quite right to be keeping more of an eye on these sorts of issues. Murray's fate is a powerful demonstration of his own myopia in opposing that sort of oversight.His replacement as chairman will be Debra Hazelton, who had previously worked in Tokyo to shake up the global corporate culture of Mizuho Financial Group Inc. That’s likely to be key to her success in the years ahead.The dinosaurs who tried to wall off the internal practices of Australia’s financial industry as a private matter that regulators had no business investigating have had their day. Businesses that don’t behave with integrity in the future will quickly lose the trust of both their customers, and their staff.This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.David Fickling is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering commodities, as well as industrial and consumer companies. He has been a reporter for Bloomberg News, Dow Jones, the Wall Street Journal, the Financial Times and the Guardian.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinionSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
WBK earnings call for the period ending June 30, 2020.