ASIC chairman Greg Medcraft muses about business, politics and his future

ASIC Chairman Greg Medcraft appeared on Channel 9’s The Bottom Line on Saturday, in a revealing chat on his poacher-turned-gamekeeper career. The big revelation is that a return to “poaching” – ie his career in banking – is more likely than a switch to politics.

The former investment banker admits the role of regulator-in-chief is not something that was top-of-mind when he quit Wall Street to come home on the eve of the GFC.

“I’ve never really thought of myself as a regulator. They’re people I try to avoid, actually,” he says of his thoughts when approached for the ASIC job.

Recalling his Wall Street days, Medcraft admits “I was on the other side saying ‘free enterprise, let us, the market, work’. I used to be lobbying saying ‘we can manage ourselves as an industry’.”

The globetrotting chairman must have some sympathy with the position of Commonwealth Bank chief, Ian Narev, who is arguing for much the same thing.

Given his bruising engagement with the Senate, and CBA, the big question was whether Medcraft would rule out a jump into either sphere when his watchdog days are over.

“Yeah, I don’t think politics,” was his opening line. “I think I’ve seen politics close-hand and you know, I like business, I like banking, you’re right, but then I like doing,” he says.

“It’s actually great if you can get a combination of where you’re doing something in business that also contributes to society … but then that’s always the approach I had when I was in banking, you know, doing things that actually are making money but actually are also very useful socially.”

As for his current gig, Medcraft was asked whether he was a “good regulator,” ie one who is “ahead of the game”.

“As much as I can be,” says Medcraft who has recently lamented the budget cuts that will make his job even harder. “I think you’ve actually got to be, in order to avoid problems.”

CBD has no disagreement with him on the last point.Love is fleeting

Bank of Queensland may be telling its customers “it’s possible to love a bank” but it seems love of its stock is optional. BOQ’s chief bank teller Stuart Grimshaw offloaded 16,000 shares last week, netting $197,000 for his troubles, according to a filing on Tuesday. Medibank bars gate

George Savvides might be itching for a sale of the little shop he runs called Medibank Private, but his PR flacks still have a lot to learn when it comes to dealing with the media attention that will come with it.

A CBD colleague approached the health insurer about a chat with Savvides about his favourite topic, but was told it is a little tricky to chat about its sale and “we can only take very specific requests (with mapped out story plans) up to the executive committee”.

We wouldn’t want the exec committee getting lost in the story, now would we?Tinkler still tinkling

Speculation is swirling about the future of Nathan Tinkler’s $70 million deal to acquire the Wilkie Creek coal mine from Peabody Energy after Fairfax Media reports prompted Stanmore Coal to say it had “held discussions” about acquiring the mine.

Peabody is sticking to its guns, though and insisting Tinkler is still their man.

“We continue to work towards the milestones set out in our original announcement,” says Peabody, which insists the parties are currently “on track” with the milestones.

CBD inquired about Stanmore confirming its flirtation with Peabody over the mine, but no further comment was offered.


CBD made the cardinal sin of referring to “God’s Banker” George Pell as a Jesuit this week. Readers inform CBD that apologies are due to the order which is formally known as the Society of Jesus. Your columnist has seen the error of his ways and will say his first Hail Marys since serving as an altar boy at St Cecilia’s, Perth.

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