Knowles quits as CEO of KiwiBank   26 May 2010

Businesswire – Sam Knowles, the chief executive of State-owned lender Kiwibank, resigned after 10 years in the job in the same week that the government flagged the potential sell-down of its holding in the bank.

“Now is the right time to look for new challenges,” Knowles said. KiwiBank’s scheduled a media conference at 11 a.m., with chairman Jim Bolger, New Zealand Post CEO Brian Roche and Knowles attending. Bolger is also set to depart, marking a changing of the guard at the top of KiwiBank.

Prime Minister John Key said this week the government would consider a potential partial float of the bank to “mum and dad investors.” Knowles helped set up the bank, which was part of the Labour-Alliance coalition agreement in the last administration’s first term, and was launched in 2002.

“A small, dedicated team created the original business case for the bank to operate through the New Zealand Post network and the plans snowballed to what we have today – a very successful bank that is a credit to all involved,” Knowles said in a statement.

Kiwibank faces tougher capital requirements to comply with stricter central bank rules for lenders. It has been in growth mode as it picks up customers from Australian-owned rivals.

Key said the government would campaign at the next election on a specific mandate if it wants to pursue asset sales, and confirmed the government would probably hold on to a majority stake if the bank was flogged off.

Kiwibank raised $150 million through a preference share issue on the NZX, of which Knowles holds 50,000, according to a note to the stock exchange yesterday.

The Trans-Tasman newsletter tipped former Finance Minister Michael Cullen as Bolger’s replacement to head up the boards of New Zealand Post and Kiwibank. Cullen was appointed the board of NZ Post last year.

(BusinessWire)

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