History of the Company


In October 1911, the Labor government of Andrew Fisher introduced a bill to establish the Commonwealth Bank (Commonwealth Bank), which would carry out all banking activities, including acting as a savings bank. It was to be run by one person, a bank manager, appointed for seven years, and capital was raised by issuing bonds..

The bill was passed on December 22, 1911, and the first office was opened on July 15, 1912, in Melbourne. Also, under an agreement with the Australian Post, the bank provided services through post offices. In 1912 it merged with the Savings Bank of Tasmania and by 1913 had branches in all six Australian states. From 1914, the bank began financing businesses, trade and government involvement in World War I. In 1916, the head office moved to Sydney.

In 1920, Commonwealth Bank accepted the function of issuing banknotes from the Treasury. The same year, the Queensland Savings Bank was taken over.

In 1924, the law on the Commonwealth Bank was amended – now its head is not a manager, but the Board of Directors (Directorate), which consists, in addition to the manager and the Minister of Finance, of financial magnates.

In 1931, the Commonwealth Bank was joined by the public savings banks of New South Wales and Western Australia. In 1945, the bank received almost all the functions of a central bank, after the end of World War II contributed to the rapid development of the economy, as well as supported immigration programs in Australia.

In 1958-59, due to contradictions arising from the combination of the functions of the central and commercial banks, it was separated. The functions of the central bank were taken over by the Reserve Bank of Australia and commercial operations were taken over by the Commonwealth Banking Corporation (CBC, Commonwealth Banking Corporation), consisting of the Commonwealth Trading Bank of Australia (CTB, Commonwealth Trade Bank), the Commonwealth Savings Bank of Australia (CSB, Commonwealth Savings Bank) and the Commonwealth Development Bank (CDB, Commonwealth Development Bank), established in 1960. Commonwealth Development Bank founded the CBFC financial company in 1974 and also issued Australia’s first credit card, Bankcard. In 1988, insurance (Commonwealth Life Ltd) and investment (Commonwealth Management Services Ltd) subsidiaries were established.

In 1991, the State Bank of Victoria was bought. The same year, the privatization of Commonwealth Bank began. In 1991, shares were sold for $1.292 billion, in 1993 for $1.7 billion, and in 1996 the privatization was completed with a $5 billion equity offering. In June 2000, the merger of Commonwealth Bank and Colonial Limited was completed, and the takeover of ASB Bank of New Zealand was completed. In 2008, the Australian bank Bankwest and St Andrew’s Insurances were acquired from the British group of companies HBOS.

In 2018, the insurance business in Australia (CommInsure Life) and New Zealand (Sovereign) was sold to AIA Group Limited for $3.8 billion.


The market capitalisation for February 2016 is around 120 billion Australian dollars ($87 billion). The company has 800,000 shareholders, the largest holders of shares as of mid-2018:

— HSBC Custody Nominees (Australia) Limited — 21,07 %;
— J P Morgan Nominees Australia Limited — 12,98 %;
— Citicorp Nominees Pty Limited — 5,59 %;
— BlackRock Group — 5,00 %;
— National Nominees Limited — 3,25 %;
— BNP Paribas Noms Pty Ltd — 2,92 %.

Catherine Livingstone – Chairman of the Board of Directors since 2017, member of the Board of Directors since 2016. Previously, she was Chairman of the Management Board of Telstra Corporation Ltd and CSIRO.

Matt Comyn has been Chief Executive Officer (CEO) since April 9, 2018, with the bank since 1999 (excluding the period from 2010 to 2012, when he headed the Australian subsidiary of Morgan Stanley).


The main divisions of the company:

Retail Banking Services – banking services to individuals and small entrepreneurs; in 2017-18 fiscal year turnover was A$12 billion, assets – A$368 billion.

Enterprise Banking (Business and Private Banking) – banking services to enterprises (including agricultural), as well as wealthy individuals; turnover – A$4.4 billion, assets – A$118 billion.

Institutional Banking and Markets – services to corporations, financial institutions and governments; turnover – A$2.7 billion, assets – A$163 billion.

Wealth Management – asset management for clients in Australia, Asia and Europe; turnover – A$2.2 billion, assets – A$20 billion.

New Zealand – banking services in New Zealand; turnover – A$2.2 billion, assets – A$90 billion.

Bankwest – banking services in Australia; turnover – A$1.8 billion, assets – A$81 billion.

International Financial Services (IFS and Other Divisions) – financial and insurance services in China, Indonesia, India and Vietnam. Also includes Commonwealth Bank’s corporate centre; turnover – A$0.7 billion, assets – A$135 billion.

The Bank serves 16.1 million clients through a network of 1,267 branches and 4,253 ATMs, with 49,125 employees, including 40,500 in Australia.

In the structure of revenue in fiscal 2017-18, A$26.132 billion of A$18.3 billion came from net interest income, A$5.4 billion from other bank income, A$2 billion from fund management and A$300 million from insurance services. In the structure of assets the most part is occupied by issued loans (A$743 billion out of A$975 billion); out of liabilities A$622 billion falls on accepted deposits.

The main region of activity is Australia, accounting for 85% of revenues and 86% of assets. Commonwealth Bank of Australia has representative offices in New Zealand (Auckland), South Africa (Johannesburg), USA (New York), China (Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen) and Hong Kong, India (Mumbai), Indonesia (Jakarta), Japan (Tokyo), Singapore, Viet Nam (Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City), France (Paris), Germany (Frankfurt), Malta (Sliema), UK (London, Edinburgh).

In 2015, Forbes Global 2000 ranked Commonwealth Bank 47th among the world’s largest public companies, including 45th by assets, 55th by net profit, 62nd by market capitalization and 239th by turnover.

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