Jet-setting ANZ chief Mike Smith may be the highest-paid bank boss in the country. But he knocked back even more than the $10.1 million a year he currently gets when Barclays tried to hire him last year.
By · 3 Oct 2013
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3 Oct 2013
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Jet-setting ANZ chief Mike Smith may be the highest-paid bank boss in the country. But he knocked back even more than the $10.1 million a year he currently gets when Barclays tried to hire him last year.

At least that's what his chairman, John Morschel, reckons. "I was very, very relieved when Barclays approached Mike Smith and he said, 'My job's not finished at ANZ yet, I'm sticking around till it's finished'," Morschel said in Sydney on Wednesday.

"He was offered, I would dare say, a lot more money. I don't know the details of that but I think we're damn lucky to have him."

Smith's bulging pay packet sparked complaints at last year's annual meeting but, according

to Morschel, investors just don't get it.

"The issue is that most shareholders or members of the public don't have any comprehension of what is involved running an organisation which, in the case of ANZ, has a market capitalisation in excess of $70 billion, it operates in 33 different countries, it employs 50,000 people," he said.

"I can assure you the board of ANZ doesn't want to pay the chief executive any more than is absolutely necessary."

Smith, last seen being patted down as he toured Indonesia with PM Tony Abbott, has previously said he didn't want the Barclays job because it involved too much "political hot water".

"They couldn't pay you enough to do that," Smith said in September last year.

He's no Crowe

If Anthony Pratt gets sick of being a cardboard king, perhaps he could try his hand at stand-up comedy.

Pratt, the chairman and chief executive of the world's biggest privately owned paper and packaging company, Visy, introduced the boss of the biggest company on the ASX, Commonwealth Bank, at a business lunch in Melbourne on Wednesday.

"If I were to ask you to name a New Zealand-born child TV actor who went on to perform on the world stage, you'd probably answer Russell Crowe, and you'd be right," Pratt quipped.

"But shortly we'll be hearing from another Kiwi who had a childhood acting career in New Zealand and went on to become a star in the world of banking.

"A successful stint on the Kiwi children's TV show Children of Fire Mountain is probably not considered a fertile training ground for your average banking executive, but Ian Narev is anything but an average banking chief executive."

Narev's critics have used his childhood stardom against him, posting redubbed footage on YouTube to criticise CBA's behaviour in its GFC-era takeover of BankWest.

However, Pratt had nothing but praise - perhaps because both he and Narev had flaming-red afro hairdos in their younger years, "although you'd never guess now".

The beer's off

Brewer CUB invited a thirsty media pack to its historic Cascade brewery in Tassie on Wednesday to see how things are going under new owner SABMiller.

MasterChef contestant Ben Milbourne was on hand to make sure hacks were well fed, as well as being well watered by former head brewer Max Burslem and new head brewer Mike Unsworth.

While SABMiller loves to stress the rich history of the Cascade operation, some things have changed. Yes, there are new machines and new processes but perhaps the biggest change is to formerly sacred rituals.

At Cascade, they didn't have smoko breaks - they had drinko breaks. That's 10 minutes of drinking at each of 10am, midday and 3pm. And more at lunchtime and after work.

For some reason the practice seems incompatible with occupational health and safety rules and has now been banished from Australia's oldest brewery.

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