Sale of UK assets moves step closer

Clydesdale boss Thorburn quits ahead of float

David ThorburnDavid Thorburn is standing down after almost four years as Clydesdale Bank chief executive in a further sign that the parent company National Australia Bank is stepping up plans for a flotation of its UK assets.

Clydesdale’s chairman Jim Pettigrew and NAB boss Andrew Thorburn confirmed that no successor was in place.

City headhunters Korn Ferry have been hired to identify someone to take the bank to the stock market.

David Thorburn, no relation to the NAB boss,  joined Clydesdale Bank in 1993, has led Clydesdale and Yorkshire banks through a difficult period which has coincided with a number of setbacks and charges including compensation paid to interest rate swap customers.

Some analysts believe the continued speculation over its future ownership contributed a lack of strategy for the UK banks.

Plans for a sale or flotation were firmed up in August when Andrew Thorburn rose to the top job at the Melbourne headquarters. NAB has long seen the UK operations as a drain on resources and the bank now wants to focus on the southern hemisphere businesses.

David Thorburn, who also served as chairman of CBI Scotland, was appointed to the executive leadership team of the bank in 2002, and became chief executive of the UK banks in 2011.

Mr Pettigrew said he had led Clydesdale and Yorkshire banks through a challenging time.

“David successfully completed the UK strategic review in 2012, which was undertaken to identify the changes needed to deliver sustainable and satisfactory returns from the UK Banking business,” he said.

“As a result of David’s efforts, the UK Banking business is in much better shape, with the 2014 results showing improvement in a number of areas including asset quality and a lower risk loan book.

David Thorburn said having been chief executive for almost four years, now was the right time for him to stand aside and allow for new leadership.

“I’m proud of the work my team and I have undertaken during my tenure as CEO, and I leave knowing that Clydesdale and Yorkshire banks are in much better shape,” he said.

“However, having been CEO for almost four years, I came to the view that it was in the best interests of the business for me to stand down at this time and allow an injection of new leadership to take place.

“I believe that the business requires a five year commitment from me, particularly as NAB looks at options to accelerate the exit from its UK Banking business and I felt this was a significant undertaking.

“This has been a challenging but incredibly rewarding role, and I would like to thank my colleagues for their hard work, and I wish the Board and the executive team every success in the future.”

Andrew Thorburn said David had made an important contribution to the bank.

“David has been extraordinarily dedicated to improving the performance of our UK operations, and our business as a result is now in much better shape,” he said.

“Since our announcement in October 2014 that we intend to examine a broader range of options to accelerate the exit from our UK Banking business, David and I have been having ongoing discussions about the future. David’s decision is understandable given what is now required. He has made an excellent contribution to the bank, and I wish him well, and am pleased he is staying on to ensure a smooth transition.”

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