By Glenn Dyer and Stephen Mayne

The Commonwealth Bank
surprised the market today with its announcement that Air New Zealand
CEO Ralph Norris is taking over from David Murray after 13 years
running Australia’s biggest bank.

Check out the various announcements here,
including the 20-page contract for the new boss who will collect a base
of $1.9 million a year, another $1.9 million a year in discretionary
short term bonuses and a further $3.8 million in free shares if the
long term performance is good.

Norris
is no stranger to the CBA, having run its New Zealand division for 10
years before taking on the turnaround task at Air New Zealand after the
Ansett collapse forced the Kiwi government to bail it out in 2001-02 – you can find his corporate profile here.
Murray scared off many of his potential successors over the years and
the market was right to predict one of them could be lured back.

But the appointment is a surprise to the market and the media
(including us at Crikey), and we’ve all had a pretty woeful record in
tipping the succession moves at Telsta and CBA in recent months. David
Murray is not the new CEO of Telstra and St George Bank CEO Gail Kelly
is not returning to the CBA to replace Murray, even though the only
barrier was the same six month notice period which Ralph Norris faces
at Air New Zealand.

Murray’s financial legacy is significant,
with the bank gloating today that he lifted the market capitalisation
from $6 billion to $49 billion and delivered a compound annual return
of 24% for investors. That’s what you call a monopoly return – but
no-one in Canberra or the Reserve Bank seems to care that most of this
came from Australia’s ripped-off banking consumers.

Murray also
bows out with CBA on top, and the $700 million market cap lead over NAB
at the start of trade has increased slightly today with CBA gaining 4c
to $38.33 and NAB losing 4c to $30.98.

Meanwhile, there’s
speculation about how much loot David Murray will walk away with when
he goes in August after 40 years at the Commonwealth. He’s got around
$22 million in shares and options and he’s been paid more than $30
million in salary and bonuses, including a sneaky $400,000 a year
retention bonus. And his superannuation could be the best part of $16
million or so, but the bank isn’t saying yet.