When the sun hits the horizon Down Under, Bob White is already on the phone to Westpac Banking Corp.'s U.S. operations in Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York. You might say the sun never sets on his Australian banking empire, which is rapidly expanding into the United States.
The Sydney-based bank's overseas strategy is the result of deregulation of the Australian banking industry, according to White, managing director. "As the largest Australian domestic bank, if we were going to compete with the large number of foreign banks (coming into Australia), we had to expand offshore," he explained.
Last year, Westpac purchased Wm. E. Pollack Government Securities, a primary U.S. government securities dealer. The bank is the world's 68th largest in terms of assets and 43rd in capital and reserves.
Its U.S. banking strategy is to target the top 800 of the Fortune 1,000 companies with sales of $300 million or more. Among the 200 of those firms it has banking relationships with are Henley Group, Arco, Unocal, Chevron and Occidental.
"The U.S. corporate community has taken kindly to an Asian bank that spoke English. One of our successes is with the cultural affinity with the U.S. base," says Samuel W. Mills, senior vice president, California branches.