NAB in halt ahead of ‘leadership changes’
NAB shares have been placed in a trading halt ahead of an announcement about "leadership changes" amid speculation over the futures of chief executive Andrew Thorburn and chairman Ken Henry.
Kenneth Hayne's final royal commission report this week expressed serious concerns about the pair's leadership, sparking immediate questions from investors about whether they can continue in their roles.
"NAB advises that the trading halt is requested pending a further announcement by NAB regarding leadership changes," the bank said in an announcement to the ASX.
In his final report made public on Monday, Commissioner Hayne said he was unconvinced that NAB was taking responsibility for failings aired at the royal commission that included charging fees for no service.
"Having heard from both the CEO Mr Thorburn, and the chair Dr Henry, I am not as confident as I would wish to be that the lessons of the past have been learned," Commissioner Hayne wrote.
Chief executive since August 2014, Mr Thorburn said on Tuesday he was "more determined than ever" to lead the bank, but later told the ABC he couldn't guarantee his tenure.
Mr Thorburn's future has been subject to speculation since he announced surprise plans to take leave around the release of the Hayne report.
He was also shaken last year by allegations an employee he considered a friend was involved in a multimillion-dollar fraud against the lender.
On Tuesday, he said he was cancelling the remainder of the two months' leave he started over the Christmas period and took aim at suggestions his absence indicated a lack of nerve or commitment.
"I've got a marriage, I've got children I've got elderly parents: they're the people who I want to spend some time with," Mr Thorburn said.
"I think that it is important for mental and physical health to lead in a sustainable and long-term way; I want to role model to people inside the company that that's OK to do."
He would not be drawn on speculation that NAB consumer bank boss Mike Baird - the former NSW Premier he hired less than two years ago - could replace him.
2GB Radio host Alan Jones said Tuesday that Mike Baird, "would be a very good CEO", while current NSW Premier and Mr Baird's former treasurer Gladys Berejiklian called him "an outstanding individual".
Since replacing Cameron Clyne as CEO, Mr Thorburn has overseen the divestment of the bank's unprofitable Clydesdale Bank and 80 per cent of its MLC wealth management business, and embarked upon a $1.5 billion restructure that will trim 4,000 jobs over three years.
But NAB shares have fallen 26 per cent during his tenure and he took a $2 million pay cut in the last financial year after the lender's full-year cash earnings fell 14.2 per cent and the bank owned up to its poor treatment of customers.
The lender's shares were 1.26 per cent higher when trading was paused at 1514 AEDT on Thursday.