Michael Pascoe writes:

The dogs were barking for months
that Mike Katz was not long for Ralph Norris’s CBA. It’s been ever thus
for internal candidates who put their hand up for the CEO job and watch
it go to an outsider. Katz’s ditching yesterday is the centrepiece of all the reports on Norris’s executive shuffle as the new CEO puts his stamp on the bank.

If
mere money can comfort a fella for thwarted ambition, no-one should
feel too sorry for the suddenly departed head of CBA’s premium business
services. My understanding is that the various reports around the place
this morning seriously underestimate how well he has done out of his 13
years as a Commbanker. The SMH goes this far:

Mr Katz, 54, pocketed a $2.78 million remuneration package
last financial year, the highest of any of the nine group executives,
and second only to Mr Norris. And thanks to healthy gains in CBA’s
share price over the past five years he stands to collect about $4.8
million should he choose to exercise and sell his 250,000 accumulated
options.

What’s missing are the many, many shares Katz
holds outright as well as the options. His annual bonus has been paid
half in cash, half in shares and it’s rumoured that he has never sold
any, meaning he could well have a stash of a couple of hundred thousand
CBA shares. At $44.70 each at the close of business yesterday,
retirement shouldn’t be too hard and there are always plenty of board
openings for a smart ex-banker.

He should at least be able to
maintain his financial support of the University of New South Wales
Foundation, where the $1,300 annual Fred Katz Scholarship is offered
for a student “proposing to undertaken an Honours year of the Bachelor
of Arts (Philosophy)”.

It probably helps to be philosophical about the swings and roundabouts of the executive ladder.

CBA
attention now will focus on Norris’s promised major strategic review
that’s expected to be unveiled on Thursday. By the look of the
executive shuffle, the emphasis will be on lifting the core business
and retail banking performance – where else could it be?

Peter Fray

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