ANZ Chief Executive Mike Smith doused on Sunday speculations that he would leave the Australian bank and move to Barclays. Mr Smith said his job at ANZ is not yet complete and he does not want to live in London, where Barclays is based.
"I came here to articulate and execute a strategy of creating a super-regional bank because I believe Australia deserves an international bank, deserves a bank that is going to support its customers and Australian business as the economy develops its links with the region," Mr Smith said.
He said much work remains in achieving that goal. The speculations of Mr Smith's return to Britain where he was born came after The Wall Street Journal said the ANZ executive is a likely candidate to replace Bob Diamond, Barclays former chief executive who resigned over the Libor-rate rigging scandal.
Mr Smith became ANZ chief executive in 2007 after a long sting at HSBC.
Observers were not surprised by Mr Smith's stand since they believe he would decline an offer from Barclays because of the ongoing investigation and the damage caused to the brand by the interest-rate scandal.
Mr Smith gave the assurance on Sunday after the Australia Business Council lunch where he challenged Canberra to develop a long-term framework to further boost Australia's relationship with China and supported the move to make the country's currency directly convertible into the yuan.
He said the Asia is clearly going to become the driving force of the Australian economy, which is why ANZ is aiming to source 25 to 30 per cent of its earnings from the Asia-Pacific region by 2017 from the current 14 per cent.
"What we need is a return to the sense of strategy and focus on China that Australia developed in the 1980s and 1990s and which governments of both persuasions pursued so effectively," Mr Smith said.
"If we are really going to take full advantage of the opportunities arising from the Asian Century, a key part of the job will be to gain public support and acceptance for our place in Asia," Mr Smith said.
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