Countrywide CIO Hooton exits firm

Countrywide Bank has made its innovative CIO Ron Hooton redundant following its purchase by Lloyds Bank in the UK. Hooton's duties will be taken over by -National Bank's director of information systems and operations, Jonathan Macleod. The bank wouldn't officially comment, but a source inside Countrywide Bank confirms that Hooton was made redundant as a direct result of the merger.

Countrywide Bank has made CIO Ron Hooton redundant following its purchase by Lloyds Bank in the UK. Hooton's duties will be taken over by -National Bank's director of information systems and operations, Jonathan Macleod.

The bank wouldn't officially comment, but a source inside Countrywide Bank confirms that Hooton was made redundant as a direct result of the merger.

"The bank won't be making any comment about any individual or their situation with the bank or outside it," says spokeswoman Cynthia Brophy.

Hooton isn't the first casualty of the takeover and he probably won't be the last. Managing director David Wolfenden left soon after the announcement was made in August and his position won't be renewed.

The writing was on the wall for Hooton when the decision was made to favour National Bank's IT structure over Countrywide's.

"Basically it came down to two of us for the job, which combined back office banking operations," says Hooton. "I thought they'd split it in two, but they decided to keep it as one job." Hooton plans to have a holiday and then look for work.

"No senior executive can be without IT understanding these days. I just happen to have a bit more of it than most, and a bit less of a few of the other things."

Hooton drove Countrywide's IT development and made a name for himself as an IT innovator using leading-edge technology, such as thin-client computing. Country-wide was one of the first companies to claim full Y2K compliance. Whether that still holds true with its new systems remains to be seen. Countrywide is also one of only three banks in New Zealand to offer an online banking service. Countrywide's decision to offer an online service was considered a shrewd move by industry analysts at the time.

The takeover comes into effect on November 27, when Countrywide will effectively cease to exist. The name for the merged bank will be The National Bank of New Zealand.

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