NAB boss and chairman both quit after damning Royal Commission

Michael Dodge  Getty Images

Michael Dodge Getty Images

NAB said board member Phil Chronican, a former executive at larger rival Westpac Banking Corp, will be interim CEO.

Thorburn, who joined as NAB's head of retail banking in 2005 and became CEO in August 2014, will leave on February 28.

Henry will retire from the board once a new permanent chief executive was appointed.

FILE PHOTO - NAB Group CEO Andrew Thorburn poses for a photocall outside their office in Sydney, Australia May 2, 2018. This included the divestment of Clydesdale Bank, Great Western Bank, and MLC Life.

Mr Chronican backed the bank's existing strategy to focus more on customers and regaining their trust.

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"I have had a number of conversations with the Chairman this week".

The blood sport of the banking royal commission reached a crescendo with Kenneth Hayne ending the careers of two of the most high-profile bankers in the land; Ken Henry and Andrew Thorburn.

"I'm disappointed about that, I'm sorry for that and I'm accountable for that".

"I have always sought to act in the best interests of the bank and customers and I know that I have always acted with integrity", Mr Thorburn said.

Thorburn, who was chief executive since August 2014, had been keen to continue but recognised the NAB board's "desire for change". As a result, I spoke with the board and offered to step down as CEO, and they have accepted my offer'.

"I have devoted myself to serve NAB and my hope and ambition is that bank can move forward and achieve its vision of being trusted by customers for exceptional service".

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NAB shares were placed in a trading halt ahead of an announcement about "leadership changes" before the bank confirmed at 5.15pm on Thursday the end of Mr Thorburn's and Dr Henry's tenure following days of intense speculation.

"Our Executive Team is capable and committed, and I have enormous gratitude to them, and the leaders and all employees of the bank".

When asked by broadcaster Leigh Sales in a live television interview on ABC TV's 7.30 whether he conceded he had been "defensive" at the royal commission, "contemptuous" in his manner, and "unable to accept criticism", Dr Henry agreed, saying: "I did not perform well". The gap as I see it is that NAB does aspire to do the right thing by every customer, every time and everywhere.

Dr Henry (pictured) said he had agreed with the board change was necessary.

'The timing of my departure will minimise disruption for customers, employees and shareholders, ' he said. "It just gives NAB an opportunity to reset".

Although Henry insisted the decision was "not made in reaction to any specific event", in a teleconference after the announcement Thorburn conceded it was those observations by Hayne that had "caused the discussions this week" leading to their resignations.

The Board is to recruit new non-executive directors "to increase diversity of thinking and experience".

"It has been terrific to work so closely with someone of Andrew's calibre".

Asked about the scandal, Mr Thorburn said the bank had co-operated with the police and that his pay was cut previous year in response, adding "no one in the bank, including myself, is being investigated" by the NSW police.

He said he believed he was leaving NAB in better shape than he found it. "I'm confident within a few years, hopefully much sooner than that, NAB will be a much stronger institution than when I joined it".

/Public Release. View in full here.

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