Yorkshire Bank has ‘cleaned up’ legacy issues as it prepares for flotation, says CEO

YORKSHIRE Bank has “cleaned up” its legacy issues and is poised to become the best capitalised challenger bank in the market, according to its chief executive David Duffy.

David Duffy the CEO for Yorkshire Bank, pictured their offices at Briggate, Leeds..14th December 2015 Picture by Simon Hulme

Mr Duffy told The Yorkshire Post that Clydesdale Bank and its sister bank, Yorkshire Bank, will go back to their roots as local community brands when they complete their flotations on the London Stock Exchange and Australian Securities Exchanges on February 2 next year.

National Australia Bank (NAB) is preparing to exit the UK market with the sale of Yorkshire Bank and Clydesdale.

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It hired Mr Duffy from Allied Irish Banks after his successful three-year turnaround of the nationalised lender.

Earlier this year, Clydesdale Bank was fined a record £20.7m after it was found thousands of Payment Protection Insurance (PPI) complaints may have been rejected unfairly.

In May, the UK’s Prudential Regulation Authority demanded that NAB sets aside up to £1.7bn to cover potential losses from mis-selling and other conduct issues.

At the time, a bank spokesman said the £1.7bn was a form of “security blanket”, that NAB has to hold for the worst case scenario

When asked if he thought the legacy issues were now closed, Mr Duffy said today: “Without a shadow of a doubt.

“A few things happened there. When you have a bank that may be for sale, may not be for sale, you’re rotating CEOs through it, you’re not clear what the strategy is.

“You’re perhaps not investing at the level you should.”

He added: “That leads to mistakes, leads to problems.

“We’re cleaning up everything. You’re going to have a strongly capitalised, well-funded bank with an indemnity against the legacy issues.

“But more important than the clean-up, we’ve put in the structures processes and risk management and everything else that a best in class model would have to prevent them re-occurring.”

Mr Duffy continued: “We’re sitting there saying, ‘OK, we understand the emotion, and the history’.

“But this is now one of the best positioned, best capitalised, best funded banks in the challenger market.

“The only one that offers all the products to take on the big guys.”

He moved to quash rumours that the bank might be vulnerable to a takeover.

He said: “It’s bizarre to me...The expectation is that everyone is running around the place trying to buy each other, and nothing could be further from the truth.”

Mr Duffy made the comments during a trip to Yorkshire Bank’s new flagship branch in Briggate, Leeds. He had just returned after a trip to Australia, where he said investors had responded positively to the planned IPO.

He added: “Remember that the Australians have a little bit of a history.

“The first job was to reassure them that the issues of the past have been resolved.

“The second thing was just to educate them on the market, and our very strong position..The third thing was to talk about our plans for growth.

“We left there with a very positive sentiment about the reaction.

“We were saying that we’re the lead challenger in terms of the market... We’re now controlling our own investment and we’ve got a lot of investment that is going to be put into the business.

“We talked about, how through controlling our own destiny we can massively improve the service we offer.

“We’re running it really well, on the ground, in the traditions of our local community brands.”

He added: “Any investor in the UK, from Yorkshire could invest in this IPO.

“I know people who live and work in the Yorkshire area will be interested in having shares in it.”

He said Yorkshire Bank planned to go back to its roots.

“Becoming a constantly visible presence again is the next step,” he added.

The IPO and demerger are expected to complete simultaneously.

The move will see Yorkshire Bank become independent for the first time since 1920.

CLydesdale Bank said it planned to go ahead with its listing on the London Stock Exchange and the Australian Securities Exchange as part of its demerger from National Australia Bank.

The listing, expected in February, follows the bank’s restructuring. After its listing, Clydesdale is expected to join the ranks of ‘challenger’ banks in London. Clydesdale Bank’s chief executive David Duffy said: “The main difference is that what we’re going to be delivering is a much better service to the customers.

“It means that when there’s a loan we’re going to do, or a facilitation of an SME, we’re going to decide it there and then with the customer, and not go to Sydney.”