An outsider seems likely to emerge as new chief executive of ANZ Bank.

ANZ’s board has gotten itself into a tangle over recent weeks and months in managing internal and external expectations over the selection of a replacement for John McFarlane as managing director.

The bank yesterday issued one of those announcements that conveys the opposite of the words on the page.

In the text, ANZ said it “agreed to extend the contract of John McFarlane until 31 December 2007 or later if required by the succession process” and followed on with several paragraphs of praise by Charles Goode, the chair of the bank’s board, for McFarlane; a declaration of “the total agreement of the board” on the succession plan and search process, and contestable assertions such as that attributed to McFarlane that “it was always intended that I would retire at the end of my current three-year contract”.

The statement confirmed that Whitehead Mann, a London-based executive search firm, would assist the board in picking the bank’s new CEO.

The notional extension of three months on McFarlane’s contract reinforces that the incumbent is leaving and that the campaign, for what it was worth, by a few institutional investors to retain McFarlane failed.

The key issue is whether the new CEO will be an insider or an outsider. In light of the key strategic shift at ANZ this year to elevate the priority of investment in east Asia the board must be leaning toward candidates with relevant experience in banking in the region.

This newsletter doesn’t know who is on the board’s or the executive search firm’s wish list, but will point to one candidate who has to be.

Mike DeNoma – currently group executive director for consumer banking at Standard Chartered Bank – is one person the chatter suggests is in the bank’s sights.

DeNoma was recently overlooked for the post of chief executive of Standard Chartered (a job taken last month by Peter Sands, formerly SCB’s finance director).

Cutting and pasting from the short biography published at the Standard Chartered web site, shows DeNoma joined Standard Chartered in July 1999 and was appointed to the board of SCB as a Group Executive Director in May 2000. DeNoma is based in Singapore.

Prior to joining Standard Chartered, Mike was the founder and CEO of Asia Foods Limited in the People’s Republic of China, the Chief Operating/Marketing Officer at Hutchison Whampoa and Citibank’s Senior Vice President for Marketing for Asia. Before joining Citibank in 1990, DeNoma worked for Pepsi, and early in his working life was employed by Procter & Gamble.

Peter Fray

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