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Business News

Australian bank boss resigns 'to spend time with family'

Leaving to "spend more time with one's family" is usually what politicians say after being forced out.

That appears not to be the case with Cameron Clyne, the 46-year-old boss of National Australia Bank who quipped that he wanted to ensure that his marriage lasted longer than his time as the bank's chief executive.

The 6ft 6in former rugby player caught the markets on the hop when he announced: "I am leaving to spend some much needed time with my young family."

He also said the last five and a half years – he took on the top job shortly before the collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008 – had "taken a personal toll".

Mr Clyne was in fact at one time mooted as a possible replacement for Stephen Hester at Royal Bank of Scotland. That job eventually went to a New Zealander, Ross McEwan, who could probably tell him a thing or two about pressure.

NAB has not been without its problems, but they pale by comparison to RBS.

One of the main ones has been NAB's underperforming UK business, including the Clydesdale and Yorkshire banks. Last month Clydesdale said it was shutting 28 "unsustainable" branches.

It was revealed in November that Mr Clyne had taken a A$1m (£560,000) pay cut in 2012 as the bank fell short of key performance targets and a significant minority of investors voted against the bank's remuneration report.

Mr Clyne, however, wasn't under any pressure to quit and the bank's performance improved in 2013 when profits rose 9 per cent to A$5.9bn. The Sydney Morning Herald opined that he had probably left the bank in better health than when he joined.

Even after Mr Clyne's steepish pay cut, his salary and bonus package came to a cool A$7.7m.

He will doubtless be able to pick up one of the numerous part-time jobs as a non-executive director that are available to former chief executives, to keep any wolves from the door.

His replacement will be close friend Andrew Thorburn, whose appointment underwhelmed Australia markets. Mr Thorburn had previously been running NAB's New Zealand business, where he had kept a relatively low profile.

He said he wanted to concentrate on the bank's core businesses in Australia and New Zealand and would "shrink UK commercial property loans".

One factor that may have motivated NAB's board to brave the market's displeasure by appointing Mr Thorburn is that his three children are of university age.