ANZ Bank appoints Antonia Watson as first female CEO

Antonia Watson has been appointed as ANZ Bank New Zealand's new chief executive officer and director, the first New Zealand woman to lead the company.

Watson will replace David Hisco, who stepped down from the position amid controversy regarding his personal expense records.

Watson, who began filling in for Hisco earlier this year, has been acting CEO of ANZ New Zealand since May. 

As CEO, Watson will sit on ANZ Banking Group's Executive Committee and will also have responsibilities for the Pacific.

Hisco left ANZ in June following the revelation that he had been recording personal chauffeur-driven cars and wine storage as business expenses for roughly nine years.

David Hisco, former ANZ NZ CEO.
David Hisco, former ANZ NZ CEO. Photo credit: Getty

ANZ chair, Sir John Key, said the money was spent on "long-term personal use of corporate chauffeur cars as well as charging the company for storage without proper disclosures".

Although the total was in the "tens of thousands of dollars", Hisco won't be required to pay it back.

"It looked like a business expense when it was a personal expense - but he was strongly of the view he was allowed to do that," the former Prime Minister previously explained.  

Sir John has described Watson as "the outstanding applicant for the role".

"Antonia is a warm, empathetic and inclusive leader who is also methodical in her thinking and forensic in her analysis," he said.

"Most importantly she is authentic. What you see is her and she'll be upfront and honest with you."

Watson joined ANZ NZ in 2009 as financial controller before becoming Chief Financial Officer in 2012. In 2017 she was appointed Managing Director Retail and Business Banking.