Yorkshire Bank CEO to step down as owner seeks exit

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THE CHIEF executive of Yorkshire and Clydesdale banks is to stand down as owner National Australia Bank looks to accelerate its exit from the UK.

NAB is understood to have appointed City headhunters Korn Ferry to find a replacement for David Thorburn, who spent nearly four years in the role. An internal search is also thought to be taking place.

NAB said the succession process was “well underway” and Mr Thorburn will stay on to help ensure a smooth transition.

As CEO, he carried out a deep restructuring exercise at Yorkshire and Clydesdale, resulting in the loss of 1,400 jobs and a retreat to the lenders’ northern and Scottish heartlands.

Mr Thorburn was also forced to set aside more than £1.2bn in provisions to compensate households and businesses for the mis-selling of useless or toxic products.

Jim Pettigrew, who became chairman of the UK business last summer, thanked Mr Thorburn for his significant contribution over many years.

He joined Clydesdale as a management trainee in 1978 and spent most of his career at the lenders, bar nine years with TSB Scotland from 1984.

Mr Thorburn, 57 this Friday, is said to be in good health.

The chairman said: “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.

“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.”

Mr Thorburn, who took over from Lynne Peacock in summer 2011, said Yorkshire and Clydesdale are in much better shape.

“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,” he added.

“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.”