NAB chief steps down

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Cameron Clyne, the chief executive of Yorkshire Bank’s owner National Australia Bank, has announced his surprise retirement, giving way to the head of the group’s New Zealand operations, Andrew Thorburn.

NAB is the largest of Australia’s “Big Four” banks by assets but the smallest by market capitalisation and while it has enjoyed strong earnings and share growth, it has underperformed its rivals since Mr Clyne, 46, took over the reins five years ago.

Mr Thorburn, a former executive at rival Commonwealth Bank of Australia who joined NAB in 2005, will take over when Mr Clyne steps down on August 1, NAB chairman Michael Chaney said.

“Cameron took over as CEO during the global financial crisis and developed an effective strategy to steer the bank through a challenging period during which it has undergone significant cultural and structural change,” said Mr Chaney.

NAB and its rivals - CBA, Australia and New Zealand Banking Group and Westpac Banking Corp - all negotiated the crisis much better than most of their global rivals, helped by a focus on plain vanilla mortgages and business lending.

But NAB’s profits have lagged its peers due largely to its UK operations, which include Yorkshire and Clydesdale Banks. Both were hit by the banking crisis.

Mr Clyne said the job had taken a personal toll and it was time to retire from executive life.

“I am leaving to spend some much-needed time with my young family,” he said.

Mr Thorburn, a 27-year banking veteran, has boosted Bank of New Zealand’s cash earnings by more than 40 per cent since he took over in 2008.

David Thorburn, chief executive of Yorkshire and Clydesdale Banks, said: “I am very grateful to Cameron for his support over the last few years and I look forward to working with both Cameron and Andrew in the coming months”.