By Nick Stride
Friday 15th August 2003
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Sources said yesterday that ANZ was considering dropping its own brand and consolidating the merged operation under the National Bank name.
The move would make sense as National Bank is the stronger brand. ANZ consistently rates lowly and National Bank highly in customer satisfaction surveys.
In last year's annual study of bank customer satisfaction by Auckland University's marketing department, ANZ rated second lowest among the five major banks, ahead of Bank of New Zealand.
Some 59% of the bank's customers said they were satisfied with its service, compared with 82% for the top-rating major bank, ASB Bank.
In Consumer magazine's survey ANZ last year rated as the most unpopular bank for the second year running.
ANZ head of media relations Paul Edwards said it was "too early to comment specifically."
"Clearly the ANZ brand is valuable. I don't think that speculation is well-informed."
ANZ is considered the frontrunner among Australian banks considering making an offer to National Bank's owner, Lloyds TSB in the UK.
This week it applied to the Commerce Commission for clearance to buy its rival.
London-based HSBC is the only non-Australian bank known to be participating in the sales process.
Farming and business groups have expressed their opposition to a sale to an Australian bank on competition grounds and consumer advocates have warned National Bank's highly-rated customer service would deteriorate.
Investment bank JP Morgan said a sharemarket float, or sale to HSBC, were the mostly likely outcomes of the sales process.
Those options avoid the price discount Australian banks will inherently have to build in to compensate for loss of combined market share.
But most other brokers believe an Australian bank will win the day because the synergies of combining two existing banks would more than compensate for market share loss
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