EXCHANGE operator ASX Ltd has appointed former Treasury boss and the government's adviser on the Asian Century to its board, signalling its renewed focus on the Asia-Pacific region after its aborted attempt to merge with the Singapore Stock Exchange in 2011.
Dr Ken Henry, who has recently overseen Canberra's Asian Century white paper, which sets out a blueprint for Australia's engagement with the region, is due to take up the position next month. It is the second corporate sector appointment for the former Treasury boss after he joined National Australia Bank as a director last year.
"Ken's reputation and experience as an economist in Australia and overseas, and as a senior bureaucrat who has worked with successive Australian governments, will bring fresh perspective and strengthen the expertise of the ASX board," ASX chairman Rick Holliday-Smith said.
SGX's takeover bid for ASX was scuttled by Treasurer Wayne Swan in April 2011 on advice from the Foreign Investment Review Board and Treasury Department shortly after Dr Henry's retirement.
The exchange was defending its monopoly over its lucrative settlement and clearing business, which was identified by the Reserve Bank and other regulators as a source of financial risk during the SGX's take-over bid.
Dr Henry was the leading economic adviser for the Rudd government during the global financial crisis and was responsible for implementing the $42 billion stimulus package, which is partly credited for rescuing Australia from a recession.
However, his stimulus policy of "go hard, go early and go to households" was attacked by the opposition and a former Treasury secretary and one-time National Party senator, John Stone, who accused Dr Henry of abandoning his political impartiality.
Dr Henry, widely considered to be one of Australia's leading tax experts, was involved in all major tax changes from the mid-1980s until the end of his tenure at Treasury, including the tax reform package of 1985, the goods-and-services tax implementation under John Howard and the Henry Review commissioned by the Rudd government.
His experience in managing the government's white paper on the Asian Century is likely to bolster ASX's Asia expertise, as it is looking to the region for growth.