This is an interesting development as the board had mentioned that it was in the process of looking for a succession plan for Mr Clyne, however the speed at which this has occurred - with Clyne stepping aside - has caught the market off-guard.
The company has reacted swiftly to appoint a new CEO in Andrew Thorburn, who is currently the head of NAB’s New Zealand business - the Bank of New Zealand (BNZ) - and has been since 2008. This is the same part of the business Mr Clyne originated from.
One thing to note though is the BNZ hasn’t had the strongest showing during the Thorburn years; margins have been squeezed to attract deposits and the business as a whole has lagged the group; raising questions as to why someone like Lisa Gray (head of Enterprise and transformation) or Gavin Slater (head of Personal banks) didn’t get the nod, considering the turnaround both have overseen in their respective divisions. Gavin Slater particularly has been very aggressive in his want for 15% of the residential property market come the end of CY2014.
Thorburn is likely to take over with no major changes to the current strategy. However, he will have to address the issues around MLC and the wealth space in general, which are underperforming its CBA and WBC peers, while also addressing the big legacy issue for NAB; its UK assets.
Yorkshire and Clydesdale banks have seen a further 23 branches closed this year, and with the property portfolio steadying, but still leaking value, is now the right time to address its 24-year-old headache?