Bankwest - The History

The Background

Bankwest, originally established as the Agricultural Bank and then as the Rural and Industries Bank of WA, has a long history within the state of Western Australia.

It was privatised in 1995 and was owned by the Bank of Scotland and HBOS/Lloyds before it was bought by the Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA), its current owner. 

When Bankwest was privatised, the Bank of Western Australia Act 1995 was created to guarantee certain protections for the institution. Among them, were ongoing provisions that included that the bank be incorporated in WA, that the head office remain in-state and that the majority of the Board of Directors be WA residents.

In 2008, the Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) acquired Bankwest. In 2012, the Act was amended to reflect this change. The amendment called the Bank of Western Australia Amendment Bill 2012continued several of the original guarantees along with others that had a five year application period.

This period expires this year.

The Provisions (from the Bank of Western Australia Amendment Bill 2012 Explanatory Memorandum):

  • Minimum points of presence: The owner of Bankwest much maintain at least 88 "points of presence" (branches, stores and business centres) in WA for five years after transfer day, unless the Minister approves otherwise and that it can be proven a reduction in number is in keeping with market trends.

  • Points of presence in regional areas: This precludes the closure of points of presence in regional areas entirely except for amalgamations or relocations within a local area.

  • Head office personnel: Four specified senior positions must be maintained at Bankwest head office, in addition to the provision regarding the Managing Director.

  • Local sponsorship and community development initiatives: Expenditure on local sponsorship and community development cannot drop below levels from 2012.

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