The decision of the Telstra board to replace Melbourne-based Australian CEO Ziggy Switkowski with Sol Trujillo, an American who will live in Sydney, marks the final nail in the coffin of Bleak City’s claims to corporate leadership.

In fact, the demise of the Melbourne establishment has never been so stark when you consider that on 1 July, none of our 15 largest listed companies will be run by an Australian out of Melbourne.

After the crash of the State Bank, Estate Mortgage and Pyramid in the early 1990s, I can remember then National Australia Bank CEO Don Argus attending a breakfast with then Victorian treasurer Tony Sheehan launching a brochure talking up Melbourne’s status as a financial and business centre. Forget the Bleak City jibes, they said, Melbourne is home to eight of the 10 largest listed companies.

Alas, with Telstra’s head office effectively moving to Sydney with Trujillo, the list below shows that Melbourne will now only be the primary home for a pitiful three of Australia’s 15 largest companies.

Lo and behold, those three companies will all be run by foreigners: American Chip Goodyear at BHP Billiton and the two Scottish Johns, ANZ’s John McFarlane and NAB’s John Stewart.

Why on earth can’t Melbourne produce a CEO to save itself? Even Coles Myer’s John Fletcher is a Sydney import, Tabcorp’s Matthew Slatter is a Kiwi, Axa’s Les Owen is from Liverpool, Amcor’s Ken MacKenzie is a Canadian and Bluescope Steel’s Kirby Adams is American.

With WMC Resources disappearing inside the belly of BHP Billiton, the only home-grown CEOs to speak of in Melbourne are CSL’s Brian McNamee, Trevor O’Hoy at Foster’s, Paul Little at Toll Holdings and Malcolm Broomhead at Orica.

The other startling statistic after the decision by Telstra and the Commonwealth Bank to look offshore for CEOs is that Australia’s five largest listed companies will now all be run by foreigners. This is surely unprecedented in any developed market economy.

Proud Melburnians should read the following table and weep:

Company Market cap Headquarters CEO CEO from
BHP Billiton $110bn Melbourne Chip Goodyear US
Telstra $63bn Sydney Sol Trujillo US
ComBank $49bn Sydney Ralph Norris New Zealand
NAB $48.4bn Melbourne John Stewart UK
ANZ $40bn Melbourne John McFarlane UK
Westpac $35bn Sydney David Morgan Australia
Westfield $30bn Sydney Frank Lowy Australia
Woodside $18.5bn Perth Don Voelte US
Woolworths $17.4bn Sydney Roger Corbett Australia
Wesfarmers $14.4bn Perth Michael Chaney Australia
St George $13.7bn Sydney Gail Kelly South Africa
Macquarie Bank $13bn Sydney Allan Moss Australia
AMP $12.3bn Sydney Andrew Mohl Australia
Rinker Group $12.2bn Sydney/Florida David Clarke Australia
QBE Insurance $12bn Sydney Frank O’Halloran Australia