Westpac bank chief Gail Kelly to retire

Westpac chief Gail Kelly at a news conference in Sydney - 2 November 2011 Image copyright AFP
Image caption Gail Kelly has been rated by Forbes as one of the 100 most powerful women in the world

The chief executive of Australian bank Westpac has announced that she will retire in February 2015.

Gail Kelly, the first female chief executive of a major Australian bank, will be succeeded by Brian Hartzer.

Mr Hartzer, who was born in America but is also an Australian citizen, is currently the head of the bank's financial services division.

Ms Kelly, 58, joined Westpac in 2008 as the financial crisis was wreaking havoc on global markets.

During her tenure, company revenue more than doubled from approximately A$50bn (£28bn; $44bn) to around A$104bn, Chairman Lindsay Maxsted said in a statement.

"Gail leaves the group in strong shape," Ms Maxsted said.

On Wednesday, Westpac's annual report showed Ms Kelly's A$12.8m annual salary made her the highest-paid banking chief in Australia.

In comparison, ANZ Chief Executive Mike Smith earned A$10.7m and Commonwealth Bank Chief Executive Ian Narev earned A$8.1m.

The South African-born Ms Kelly has been rated by Forbes as one of the 100 most powerful women in the world.

As the Australian business community pushes for more female board members and chief executives, Ms Kelly, a mother of four, is considered by some as a role model for aspiring leaders.

There had been speculation Mr Hartzer would succeed Ms Kelly after he joined Westpac in 2012 following senior postings at ANZ and the Royal Bank of Scotland.

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