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Going global

ANZ’s traditional market segment and strategy has always had a more corporate focus than many of its competitors, with the result that throughout the 20th century the Bank was active in following its New Zealand and Australian customers overseas.

Blue Chinese dragon next to banner with ANZ logo.ANZ Indonesia branch.

When banking sectors opened up to foreign competition (post 1984) and the New Zealand and Australian dollars were floated, businesses looked to internationalise. This process further accelerated in 1984 when ANZ purchased Grindlays Bank, an old British colonial bank focused on South Asian countries (such as India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Nepal) the Middle East and Africa. This saw ANZ having a greater presence in Asia with the Bank's interest and activity in that region growing significantly.

The Grindlays' network under-performed for many years, mainly due to continued heavy regulation in India, which restricted how banks and companies could operate. Following the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis (AFC), ANZ decided to sell their Middle Eastern and South Asian businesses so they could focus on their home markets of New Zealand and Australia, as well as on East Asia. Unfortunately in 2000 when the Indian economy deregulated, ANZ regretted not retaining the Indian branches it had sold three years earlier. However, a rapid recovery made by the East Asian economies after the AFC saw an even closer economic connectivity between and amongst those countries and with New Zealand and Australia. ANZ continued its Asian expansion, buying into banks in Indonesia and Cambodia and growing its own branch network across the region.

From mid-2000, ANZ further expanded its Asian business via a number of strategic, minority investments in local banks in the region, principally:

  • China - buying 20% of both the Bank of Tianjin and Shanghai Rural Commercial Bank
  • Indonesia's Panin Bank
  • Vietnam's Sacom Bank
  • by forming banking joint ventures with Royal Insurance in Cambodia (ANZ Royal Bank) and MetroBank in The Philippines (a JV focusing on credit cards).
Front of ANZ Cầu Giấy branch in Vietnam.

In 2007, ANZ made a calculated decision to reinforce their clear point of differentiation with other banks by becoming a significant player in Asia. The appointment of a new CEO with extensive experience in the Asian market clearly demonstrated that ANZ was intent on becoming a super-regional Australasian and Asian bank. As many other banks withdrew from the Asian market to concentrate on problems closer to home, ANZ took advantage of these opportunities and began looking at a number of possible investment options.

In 2009 ANZ bought all of the East Asian businesses that were being sold by the Royal Bank of Scotland. This resulted in ANZ going from:

  • one to 21 branches in Taiwan
  • 15 branches to 40 in Indonesia
  • one in Singapore and Hong Kong to six in both countries

and enlarging its corporate business in The Philippines and Vietnam.

This saw ANZ becoming an even more dominant bank in Asia and by 2010 being the fourth largest Pan Asian bank. Only Hong Kong Shanghai Bank, Citibank, and Standard Chartered Bank have a wider presence in Asia.

Read more about ANZ's journey:

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