The chairman and founder of Aussie Home Loans has received 2.1 million of Commonwealth Bank shares — worth nearly $164 million — for his remaining 20 per cent stake in the brokerage.
On Friday, 25 August, the bank fully paid John Symond 2,087,605 ordinary shares — at $78.54 each — in exchange for the remaining interest he held in the brokerage.
The purchase price for the shares were determined in accordance with the terms of the deal agreed in 2012.
CBA now owns Australia’s biggest mortgage broker in its entirety, and Mr Symond is one of the largest individual stakeholders in the major bank.
Speaking at the brokerage’s bi-annual conference on the Gold Coast on Monday (28 August), Mr Symond said: “I can say, hand on heart, for the 25 and a half years of ownership of Aussie Home Loans, we’ve had a very simple mantra, and people can attest to this: we’ve never ever made a decision that wasn’t best for Aussie.”
Looking back to the first talks he had with CBA about buying Aussie, Mr Symond revealed that his initial deal with the Commonwealth Bank was triggered by the global financial crisis.
He said: “I didn’t know what was going to happen [with the banks], and although we didn’t need a partner then, it turned out to be a very big positive [change]. I remember Ralph [Norris, the former CEO of CBA] said to me: ‘The further we stay away from Aussie, the more successful you’ll be.’ And secondly, he said: ‘I want you to understand how we are paid. The bulk of our [remuneration] is based on customer satisfaction.’
“I really sat back at that and thought about it, and then I was very careful ... to make sure that the bank delivered, because we had a broker model and had to be impartial and deal with all of our terrific business partners, including all the other banks. And to CommBank’s credit, they followed through. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have agreed in 2012 to go to that next stage. And during that time, we never made a decision that wasn’t good for Aussie.”
Mr Symond reassured brokers at the conference that things would not change now that CBA owns all of Aussie.
“It won't change. I’m still staying as chairman and every decision will still be made based on what is best for Aussie.”
He said that he remains a “huge supporter of the Australian banking system”.
Noting that the Australian banks “stood strong” during the global financial crisis and didn’t need bailing out from government, Mr Symond concluded: “So, people ask me why I traded in Aussie shares for CommBank? Because I believe in the Australian banking system going forward and, obviously, having a close association with CommBank, I’m confident that they have the people, the skills, the belief, the vision, the culture that whatever crap’s happened, they’ll fix it.”
[Related: Opinion: Is CBA shorting mortgage brokers?]