ANZ executives sample product
By · 18 Nov 2013
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18 Nov 2013
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ANZ executives sample product

When it comes to knowing your product, the top ranks at ANZ take the cake.

Just like that old notion about how CEOs should spend a bit of time in the call centre, and so with ANZ, maybe it was a case of testing the goods with executives and directors taking out more than $12 million in loans with the bank.

Before we go on, it's worth pointing out the fine print. ANZ, like all banks mentioned below, say loans are made on normal commercial terms and conditions no more favourable than those given to other employees or customers.

Still, pity the local branch manager when ANZ chief lord Mike Smith of Docklands saw his loan balance escalate to a lazy $18.4 million over 2012. However, proving he is good for his word, Smith has paid down the bulk of his loan to now have $1 million outstanding at the end of October. Others include ANZ's deputy chief executive Graham Hodges who has a cool $5.1 million facility with the bank and chief financial officer Shayne Elliott has $2 million - down from a year earlier. ANZ director Alison Watkins - who also doubles by day as GrainCorp's chief executive - has a $3.6 million facility with the bank.

Big four also-rans

Other lenders are a little more dull. Westpac leads the frugality stakes - with the funds management chief Brad Cooper the most notable executive sitting on a $2.2 million loan. Gail Kelly clearly prefers to use deposits over lending because she owes the bank nothing, while the Sydney bank's head of Australian Financial Services business Brian Hartzer has borrowed $61,600.

Commonwealth Bank's Ian Narev clearly hasn't signed up to the staff loans scheme yet, but technology chief Michael Harte has secured a $3.56 million loan and retail banking boss Matt Comyn has a $1.2 million loan. Fresh figures should be available this week to see how many National Australia Bank execs have rushed the lender's mortgage book.

Cindy takes guard

Lend Lease was the latest group to adopt the new voting gadgets at annual shareholder talk-fests. Using a smart card and a device that has a striking resemblance to a BlackBerry, Lend Lease's stalwart chairman, David "Cindy" Crawford, posed the question: "Will Australia win the Ashes against England this summer?", as his practice run. Showing the diversity and perhaps age of the group's shareholder base, the answers were 77.9 per cent for and 22.1 per cent against.

He also played a straight bat when it came to some comments about the expansion plans for the Port of Abbot Point and the usual dissident investor who complains about font size and page colours. After four hours at the crease, he was seen showing shareholders (over a cuppa), the mock-up plan for Barangaroo - like he was an old-hand real estate agent.

Not so cheesy

CBD was clearly confused. For years he considered Warrnambool Cheese & Butter a sleepy western Victorian agribusiness play, but in going through the strategy, there was one thing he missed - Warrnambool's emerging internet business. So while the breakneck growth of its internet arm is obvious to the likes of suitors such as Canada's Saputo or Bega, Warrnambool, (aka can finally be compared with peers Google and Apple.

At Friday's close was trading at a price-to-book value of 2.9 times and a price-to-earnings ratio of 25 times.

This compares favourably with Google's price-to-book value of 3.3 times, but outpaces the search engine giant's price-to-earnings of 19.9 times. Apple's respective ratios come in at 3.4 times and 12.1 times. Still, has got to harden up its social media strategy - that's where the real valuations lie.

Facebook is trading on a price-to-book value of 7.2 times and a price-to-earnings of 44 times. Twitter takes the cake with a price-to-book value of 9.5 times. No price-to-earnings there for the company that is yet to turn a dollar in profit.

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