Exchange operator ASX Ltd. has bolstered its board with the appointment of former Treasury boss Ken Henry.
While the appointment is from next month, Dr Henry, who recently oversaw the federal government's 'Asian Century' White Paper, will stand for election as a director at ASX’s 2013 annual meeting, to be held later this year.
The move signals the ASX’s renewed focus on the Asia Pacific region after its aborted attempt to merge with the Singapore Stock Exchange in 2011.
This is the second corporate sector appointment for the ex-Treasury boss after he joined the National Australia Bank as a director last year.
“Ken’s reputation and experience as an economist in Australia and overseas, and as a senior bureaucrat who has worked with successive Australian governments, will bring fresh perspective and strengthen the expertise of the ASX Board,’’ ASX chairman Rick Holliday-Smith said today.
SGX’s takeover bid for ASX was scuttled by Treasurer Wayne Swan in April 2011 on the advice of the Foreign Investment Review Board and Treasury Department shortly after Dr Henry’s retirement.
The exchange is defending its monopoly over its lucrative settlement and clearing business, which was identified by the Reserve Bank and other regulators as a source of financial risk during the SGX’s take-over bid.
Dr Henry was the leading economic advisor for the Rudd government during the global financial crisis and was responsible for implementing the $42 billion stimulus package, which is partly credited for rescuing Australia from a recession.
However, he and his stimulus policy of ‘‘go hard, go early and go household’’ was attacked by the Coalition party and a former Treasury secretary and one-time National party senator, John Stone, who accused Dr Henry of abandoning his political impartiality.
Dr Henry, who is widely considered to be one of country’s leading tax experts, was involved in a roller coaster of major tax changes since the mid-1980s until the end of his tenure at the department, which included tax reform package of 1985, GST implementation under John Howard and the Henry Review for the current government.
His experience in managing the federal government’s white paper on the ‘Asian Century’ is likely to bolster the ASX’s Asia expertise as the exchange looks to the region for growth opportunities.