Outgoing NAB chief Cameron Clyne says Yorkshire Bank ‘proud and committed’ part of community

Cameron Clyne, the outgoing chief executive of National Australia Bank
Cameron Clyne, the outgoing chief executive of National Australia Bank
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YORKSHIRE BANK is a “proud and committed” part of the Yorkshire community, according to the outgoing Australian chief executive who pumped nearly £1.5bn into the lender during the downturn.

National Australia Bank yesterday announced the retirement of Cameron Clyne, the CEO who steered the bank through the worst of the global financial crisis and its aftermath over the last five years.

He will be replaced by Andrew Thorburn, an internal appointment who has been leading the subsidiary Bank of New Zealand.

Mr Clyne told The Yorkshire Post: “While there has always been speculation about NAB’s intentions for Yorkshire Bank I have always believed that actions speak louder than words – evidenced by our continued support for many years so that Yorkshire Bank has not cost the British taxpayer £1 yet has remained able to support Yorkshire customers.

“We are a committed and proud part of the Yorkshire community.”

Mr Clyne, who is 46, said that he would be leaving to spend some much-needed time with his young family.

He was appointed as CEO designate in October 2008, weeks after the collapse of Lehman Brothers triggered one of the worst financial meltdowns in history and had to contend with frozen international credit markets, plunging stock markets and widespread corporate and banking failures.

NAB pumped three separate capital injections into Yorkshire and Clydesdale between 2008 and 2012 totalling £1.487bn, plus an additional £130m into the pension fund in 2012.

In Australia, he had to deal with corporate collapses, sharply higher funding costs, increasing bad debts and emerging off-balance sheet exposures.

Mr Clyne launched a major restructuring of NAB, one of the biggest banks in the world. He tried and failed to sell the UK banks in 2010 and 2011 and settled instead on a deep cost-cutting exercise which involved the loss of 1,400 UK jobs, the closure of 29 business banking centres and the creation of a ‘bad bank’ to house troublesome commercial property loans worth £5.6bn.

David Ellis, an analyst at Morning Star, said: “The CEO revelled in the period of intense uncertainty and change, making clear the status quo was not an option.”

Mr Clyne tightened his grip on the UK operations in 2012 by becoming chairman of National Australia Bank Europe and oversaw a clear-out of non-executives from the board.

He faced another challenge after Yorkshire and Clydesdale were caught up in the mis-selling scandal; to date the banks have set aside at least £250m to provide redress for businesses and households.

Mr Clyne also had to deal with disapproval from some Australian investors who were unhappy at the UK operations acting as a drag on the performance of the overall group.

The former PwC partner said yesterday that leading more than 42,000 NAB employees and strengthening the culture and reputation of the organisation was the most rewarding role of his career. But he said the job had taken a personal toll and it was now time to retire from executive life.

Michael Chaney, chairman of NAB, 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.

“He is highly regarded throughout the bank and externally, and we are sorry to see him leave at this time.”