Bank of New Zealand chief executive Angela Mentis is being touted as a possible contender for the top job at its parent National Australia Bank.

Mentis took over as CEO of the BNZ in January last year, switching positions with the then CEO Anthony Healy, who was sent back to NAB to head up its business banking division.

Mentis is understood to be one of four potential contenders for the top job alongside Healy.

William Curtayne, a Sydney-based portfolio manager with Kiwi firm Milford Asset Management, said the major Australian banks had long-used their New Zealand arms as a training ground for future chief executives and Mentis and Healy were possibilities.


Andrew Thorburn, who leaves at the end of this month after falling on his sword in the wake of heavy criticism in Kenneth Hayne's Royal Commission report, was previously BNZ CEO from October 2008 to June 2014 before moving into the top job.

But some believe it may be better to have a fresh face leading the banks.

Analysts are picking Craig Drummond would be welcomed by investors as the front-runner.

Harbour Asset Management chief executive Andrew Bascand said: "My sense is that the market would welcome Craig Drummond to the role.

"Having said that, all the candidates in the AFR today have strong CVs, especially Mentis, who ran business banking."

Drummond was previously head of finance and strategy at NAB from 2013 to 2016 but left to take on the top job at Australian private health insurer Medibank.

Curtayne said Drummond was being groomed for the NAB CEO role before he left to go to Medibank and was the front-runner to come back and lead NAB.

"He definitely would offer a fresh take and change of culture."


Regardless of who gets the job, Curtayne believes it won't be a quick appointment.

"It will be pretty considered."

That could leave NAB under caretaker CEO Phil Chronican for the next three months or more.