Suncorp Bank chief heads for exit as ANZ takeover looms

Suncorp Bank Clive van Horen, departure, exit

The chief executive of Suncorp’s banking arm, Clive van Horen, will depart from the group at the end of this year, Suncorp has announced to the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX).

A former CommBank executive of nearly a decade and native of South Africa, van Horen has led Suncorp Bank since joining the group in August 2020.

Suncorp Group chief executive Steve Johnston, while expressing his disappointment at van Horen’s departure, acknowledged his key role in preparing the business for its eventual sale, including leading its enterprise efficiency drive as well as innovations in broker and customer experiences.

“Clive and his team have done an exceptional job in simplifying the bank and growing our home and business lending portfolios, particularly in what has been a complex and highly competitive market,” Johnston said.

“They’ve also made great strides in delivering improved experiences for our customers as well as brokers.”

He added: “The bank is a well-regarded franchise thanks to the work undertaken to transform the business, and it is well positioned to continue this positive trajectory into the future.”

In preparation for its sale, van Horen has achieved a notable turnaround in Suncorp Bank’s profitability over the last year.

The Bank’s net profit after tax grew by 27.7 per cent over the FY22 and FY23 period to $470 million (reversing a 12.2 per cent loss in the previous financial year), with net interest income also jumping by 13 per cent.

Suncorp’s total lending book also grew by 8.5 per cent over the last financial year, driven by a 9.1 per cent jump in its home lending portfolio, as well as a 5.9 per cent jump in business lending – largely reversing a decline in the Suncorp lending portfolio when van Horen took over the banking arm three years ago.

van Horen has also publicly expressed his support for ANZ’s proposed takeover of Suncorp Bank, currently before the Australian Competition Tribunal.

In a witness statement to the competition regulator in support of the ANZ takeover, van Horen said ANZ “is in a better starting position to move forward with technology investment… that will benefit Suncorp Bank customers and which is unlikely to be made by Suncorp Bank on a standalone”.

“Suncorp Bank will benefit from the significant investment ANZ has made in technology, including to offer leading service propositions,” he said, citing ANZ’s “large-scale investment” in its digital-only ANZ Plus play.

He was also critical of Suncorp Bank’s potential merger with rival mid-tier bank Bendigo, considering a technology integration program and migration process between the pair “to be highly complex and costly”.

Earlier this year, van Horen was tipped as a likely replacement for ANZ chief executive Shayne Elliott.

Across his nearly 10-year tenure at CBA, van Horen led the customer solutions function for its business and private bank arms for just over two years, and prior to this was EGM for retail products.

He also served as managing executive, secured lending/retail banking services, at the South Africa-based Nedbank for just under six years from 2004.

According to Suncorp, van Horen is leaving to “pursue an opportunity in the non-bank financial services sector”.