Transurban has poached ANZ’s chief financial officer Michelle Jablko as the $38 billion toll road giant beds down a refreshed senior management team in anticipation of a big year of dealmaking in 2021.
Transurban said Ms Jablko, who has been the big four bank’s CFO for four and a half years, would bring extensive experience in mergers and acquisitions and the reshaping of global portfolios to the infrastructure group, following a long career as an investment banker with UBS and Greenhill Australia.
ANZ chief executive Shayne Elliott said that while the bank was “disappointed Michelle is leaving, we respect her decision and wish her the best in her new role”.
The bank’s general manager of internal audit, Shane Buggle, a 20-year ANZ veteran and former deputy CFO, will temporarily act as CFO while it searches for a replacement for Ms Jasblko.
Transurban CEO Scott Charlton said the company was “delighted” by the appointment. “I believe that with her leadership, capabilities and experience she will make a significant contribution to the Transurban business,” he said.
Transurban last week raised $2.8 billion by selling 50 per cent of its US road assets to three superannuation funds, building a war chest for new growth acquisitions in Australia and North America, including the 49 per cent of Sydney’s Westconnex it does not already.
It is also locked in a conflict with the Victorian government over Melbourne’s troubled West Gate Tunnel project.
Brett Le Mesurier, a banking analyst at Velocity Trade, said Ms Jablko had proved herself to be a capable CFO and the move was a loss to ANZ.
“I would imagine they would have much preferred that she stay,” Mr Le Mesurier said. “At least in the interim, it’s a very good replacement.”
Mr Elliott praised Ms Jablko for transforming the bank’s finance function and being instrumental in the “simplification and strengthening of the organisation”.
“I personally thank her for her considerable contribution over the past four and a half years,” he said.
Ms Jablko said the move was an “incredibly tough decision” but she was looking forward to putting her experience to use in a new industry. “I’ve thoroughly enjoyed working with Shayne and the broader team as well as playing a role in the bank’s continued success,” she said in a statement.
“I’m particularly proud of the work we have done to strengthen and simplify the bank as well as the highly capable finance function we have built over the last few years. I know the team will continue to do a great job for ANZ’s shareholders and customers.”
Ms Jablko’s hiring by ANZ in July 2016 was overshadowed by a war of words that snowballed into a legal battle after brokerage Bell Potter’s then-head of institutional trading, Angus Aitken, criticised the appointment because “former investment bankers tend to be crap at most things in the listed world”.
Mr Aitken said in an email to his clients at the time that British clients were particularly amazed by the appointment given Ms Jablko’s last major deal as an investment banker was advising Slater & Gordon on its disastrous acquisition of the UK group Quindell, which helped send the law firm bankrupt.
ANZ’s communications boss Paul Edwards tweeted in response that “Sexism alive + well in stockbroking?”, which Mr Elliott “liked” on the social media platform.
Mr Aitken lost his job and then sued ANZ, Mr Elliott and Mr Edwards for defamation, winning a confidential settlement and a public apology.
Transurban has refreshed its executive committee this year, with former CFO Adam Watson departing in October. That month Sydney Airport’s former chief operating officer Hugh Wehby joined Transurban as group executive partner, delivery and risk, while Simon Moorfield joined from AGL as group executive customer and technology.
Transurban’s shares were up down 1.07 per cent at $13.85 in late afternoon trading.
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