Paul O’Malley to chair CBA following Catherine Livingstone’s retirement

  • By Zilla Efrat

Paul O’Malley, the former head of BlueScope Steel, is set to replace Catherine Livingstone as CBA’s chair when she retires from the board in August 2022.

O’Malley is currently chair of the CBA board remuneration committee and has been on its board since January 2019.

He was managing director and CEO of BlueScope Steel for 10 years until 2017, during which time he managed the company through the global financial crisis which created a worldwide glut of steel.

In addition to taking significant short-term restructuring steps to steer the BlueScope through this problem, O’Malley developed a longer-term plan that enabled the company to become the world’s largest producer of value-added flat steel products used in the building and construction sectors.

O’Malley’s priorities as CBA’s chair include further enhancing the bank’s position as a major contributor to Australia’s economy – a key focus of the bank’s recently refreshed strategy designed to support the growth of its 15 million retail, business and institutional customers.

“CBA has profoundly important obligations to its customers, employees and shareholders, and a vital responsibility to foster economic and social wellbeing,” says O’Malley.

“The bank is playing a leading part in supporting Australia’s economic growth agenda and its transition to both a sustainable and a digital economy. Above all, I am a firm believer in the meaningful and crucial role that CBA plays in the lives of its customers and in Australia’s national interest.”

Before taking over the helm of BlueScope, O’Malley was its CFO. In the early 2000s, he was CEO and CFO of TX Energy, a US electricity and gas retailer. And before that, he worked in Deloitte’s corporate finance and consulting divisions and in investment banking, after starting his career with KPMG as an auditor and tax consultant in the mid-1980s.

O’Malley is also a director of Coles and chair of the advisory council of Melbourne primary and secondary school St Kevin’s College. He’s a former trustee of the Melbourne Cricket Ground Trust. 

Livingstone joined the CBA board in March 2016 as an independent non-executive director and became chair in January 2017.

She will step down in August after the finalisation of the financial statements and accounts for this financial year.

“I have been honoured to serve as CBA’s chair through a time when the bank has addressed a number of complex challenges and in doing so, rebuilt its reputation as an organisation that seeks to deliver positive outcomes for its customers, people and shareholders,” says Livingstone.

“During the coronavirus pandemic, CBA has demonstrated unequivocally that a strong, stable, well capitalised banking sector is vital to Australia’s economic and social wellbeing.

“It is a tribute to the efforts of CBA’s 48,000 people that they have been committed to transforming the organisation into a simpler and better bank clearly focused on its customers.”

“The group has made significant progress on this strategy which focused on CBA’s core banking businesses.  This has enabled the bank to build on that foundation and evolve its growth strategy to one of building tomorrow’s bank today – both for its customers and for the leadership role expected of it in supporting the transition of the Australian economy,” adds Livingstone.

“It is, therefore, an appropriate time to hand over to the next chair to lead this ambitious agenda and guide the bank through its next phase.”