End of National Bank brand expected today

ANZ National refuses to confirm whether or not the rumours are true, ahead of today's staff announcement.

 ANZ won't confirm it will tell staff today it is scrapping its National Bank brand. 

The banks were merged in 2003 when ANZ bought National from Lloyd’s TSB for nearly $7 billion.

The move affects 900,000 National Bank customers and thousands of staff.

ANZ spokesman Stefan Herrick told NBR ONLINE no decision on the future of the National brand has been made.

However, it is widely known the National Bank brand is on the out, and he confirmed a decision will be made very soon, because the IT systems of both banks will be merged at the end of next month.

Mr Herrick says staff will today be updated on what the bank calls the "New Zealand simplification project" – a wide-ranging project looking at the banks’ IT systems and other processes.

"If we were to merge, however, we want to stress there would be no impact on front-line staff. We need all those staff to service our customers. And we’re committed to keeping branches in all the communities we serve.”

Asked if that means keeping both ANZ and National Bank branches, he simply repeated ANZ National’s commitment to stay in the communities it already serves.

In November 2010, ANZ National ceo David Hisco said he would not rule out the possibility one of the bank brands being phased out.

“Everything is on the table," he told NBR ONLINE, as he announced the move to streamline the two brands' IT systems.

The IT merger will mean changes to ANZ National's internet banking systems, as well as the long-awaiting arrival of the ANZ Visa debit card, among other changes.

Centre for Banking Studies director Dr David Tripe believes any decision to close down National Bank could be more costly than ANZ realises.

He suspects the cost of running two brands is not very large, while in the meantime the company has a well-recognised and respected brand in the National Bank.

“We’re not at all sure the ANZ has the same value in the public mind in this market.

"The ANZ’s hope is people will be quite happy to switch from National to ANZ, and if in fact there was no cost to ANZ in closing the brand down, they’d probably be into it quite quickly.

"But I’m not sure other people share the same perspective as to how low cost a transition it would be for them.”

Dr Tripe believes one reason now could be a good time to close down the brand is so ANZ can take a goodwill write-down in this year’s annual results.

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