National Australia Bank

National Australia Bank
National Australia Bank Limited
Type Public
Traded as ASXNAB
Industry Banking
Founded 1893
Headquarters Melbourne, Australia
Area served Australia, New Zealand, UK, USA, Asia
Key people Cameron Clyne, (CEO)
Michael Chaney, (Chairman)
Products Business Banking
Consumer Banking
Wholesale Banking
Wealth Management
Net income increase A$5.22 billion (2011)
Total assets increase A$754 billion (2011)
Employees decrease 44,645 (2011)
Website National Australia Bank
nab Group

National Australia Bank (abbreviated NAB, branded nab) is one of the four largest financial institutions in Australia in terms of market capitalisation and customers. NAB is ranked 17th largest bank in the world measured by market capitalisation.[1] It operates across 10 countries serving 8.3 million consumer and business banking customers and over 2.3 million wealth management customers.[2]

NAB operates 1,808 branches and service centres and 4654 ATMs globally.[2] NAB has a "AA" senior debt rating by S&P.[3]


Business Overview

The National Australia Bank Group is organised into nine divisions, spread across four geographic regions.

Region Division Brand Description
Business Banking
NAB logo
  • Australia's largest business bank (by assets) [4]
  • Employees: 5,427
  • ~700,000 clients
  • 2011 cash earnings: A$2,445m[5]
Personal Banking
NAB logo
UBank logo
  • Australia's fourth largest retail bank
  • Employees: 8,705
  • ~3,000,000 customers (~100,000 UBank customers)
  • Brands include: NAB Retail, UBank, Homeside and Advantedge (ex Challenger)
  • 2011 cash earnings: A$932m[5]
MLC & NAB Private Wealth
NAB Private Wealth logo.png
  • 5,909 employees
  • Investment, superannuation, insurance and private wealth solutions to individual investors and corporate customers
  • Brands include: MLC, JBWere, Navigator, Plum, JANA, NAB Private Wealth
  • 2011 cash earnings: A$533m[5]
United Kingdom UK Banking
Yorkshire bank.png
Clydesdale logo.png
  • Two banking franchises: Clydesdale Bank and Yorkshire Bank
  • Retail, business and corporate banking services
  • Employees: 8,351
  • ~2.7 million customers
  • 2011 cash earnings: A$288m[5]
New Zealand NZ Banking
  • Bank of New Zealand
  • Retail, business and agribusiness banking and insurance services
  • Employees: 4,641
  • ~1 million customers
  • 2011 cash earnings: A$469m[5]
USA Great Western Bank
Great Western Bank]
  • Great Western Bank
  • Consumer, business and agri-banking
  • Employees: 1,492
  • ~300,000 customers
  • 125 branches located across seven states, mainly in the Mid-West agricultural region of the US
  • 2011 cash earnings: A$88m[5]
Wholesale Banking
Specialised Group Assets
  • Bad bank containing approximately A$15 billion of exposures including CDOs and high yield debt
  • Created in aftermath of the Global Financial Crisis
  • Aim for orderly wind down of assets over time
  • 2011 cash earnings: A$110m[5]
Corporate Functions and Other
  • Includes the Group's operations in Asia, as well as Group Funding and other service functions
  • 2011 cash earnings: A$159m[5]


Early history (-1981)

In 1893, National Bank Limited was formed. Up until 1 October 1981 it continued to trade as The National Bank of Australasia Limited, only after the merger with the Commercial Banking Company of Sydney Limited did it become known as National Australia Bank.

National Bank of Australasia Limited

In 1858 Alexander Gibb, a Melbourne gentleman, enlisted Andrew Cruickshank, a local merchant and pastoralist, to raise the capital to establish National Bank of Australasia with headquarters in Melbourne. Cruickshank became its first chairman while Gibbs left after being passed over for the position of General Manager. The bank opened its first branch in South Australia the same year.

Expansion to other Australian states followed, with branches opening in Tasmania (1859), Western Australia (1866), New South Wales (1885) and finally Queensland (1920).

An early branch established in Mauritius (1859) closed within a year, but a London branch (1864), established to handle financing and payment for Australian exports of wool, gold and other commodities, and imports to Australia, was more successful.

National Bank of Australasia was one of many banks that closed its doors during the banking crisis of 1893. Director John Grice was active in the crisis, from which the bank re-emerged as a public limited company, incorporated on 23 June 1893.

For the next half century, growth was stimulated by a number of acquisitions:

  • Colonial Bank of Australasia (est. 1856) in 1918, bringing additional branches in Victoria and New South Wales.
  • Bank of Queensland in 1922, with branches in Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria. The Bank of Queensland was itself result of the merger in 1917 of Royal Bank of Queensland (est. 1886) and Bank of North Queensland (est. 1888).
  • Queensland National Bank (est. 1872) in 1948, with branches in Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria.
  • Ballarat Banking Company (est. 1865) in 1955

The bank opened a representative office in Tokyo in 1946, later upgraded to a branch in 1985. The bank's overseas interest expanded more rapidly in the 1970』s. It opened a branch in Singapore in 1971, and representative offices in Jakarta (1973) and Hong Kong (1974). It took minority interests in merchant banks in these locations at the same time, and in Hong Kong established a 50-50 joint venture merchant bank with Mitsubishi Bank and Trust, but withdrew from these arrangements in 1984. Its first US presence was established in 1977 with a branch and an agency in Los Angeles that closed in 1993.

The Commercial Banking Company of Sydney Limited (CBC)

Former CBC Bank in Wagga Wagga, NSW

On the 8 September 1834 the Sydney Herald carried a notice titled "Commercial Banking Company of Sydney" proposing the establishment of a new bank.[6] It began operations on 1 November 1834[6] and in 1848 was incorporated by an Act of the New South Wales Parliament. Sir Edward Knox was the first Bank Manager and later a director.[7] Thomas Barker (born 1799 London, England, died 1875 Bringelly, New South Wales), a manufacturer, engineer, politician, landowner and philanthropist was a notable director and chairman.

The CBC grew to service the expanding pastoral and farming industries of the then Colony of New South Wales.[8]

Merger and rapid overseas expansion (1981-2011)

NAB House, Melbourne (Former NAB headquarters 1978 - 2004)[9]

In 1981, National Bank of Australasia Limited merged with The Commercial Banking Company of Sydney Limited to form National Commercial Banking Corporation of Australia Limited and subsequently changed its name to National Australia Bank Limited (NAB).[10]

The expanded financial base of the merged entity triggered significant offshore expansion over ensuing years. Representative offices were established in Beijing (1982), Chicago (branch 1982), Dallas (1983), Seoul (1983, upgraded to a branch in 1990), San Francisco (1984), Kuala Lumpur (1984), Athens (1984, closed 1989), Frankfurt (1985, closed 1992), Atlanta (1986), Bangkok (1986), Taipei (1986 upgraded to branch 1990), Shanghai (1988, closed 1990), Houston (1989) and New Delhi (1989).

In 1987, NAB bought Clydesdale Bank (Scotland) and Northern Bank (Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland) from Midland Bank. It rebranded Northern Bank branches in the Republic of Ireland to National Irish Bank and changed both banks' logos from that of the Midland Bank. In 1990, NAB bought Yorkshire Bank (England and Wales).

Further acquisitions followed - Bank of New Zealand in 1992, which at the time had about a 26% market share in the New Zealand market, and Michigan National Bank (MNB) in 1995. NAB had earlier rationalised its operations in the US and closed its offices in Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, and San Francisco in 1991.

This period of rapid expansion through acquisition concluded with the purchases in 1997 of HomeSide Lending, a leading US mortgage originator and servicer based in Florida, and most significantly, the acquisition in 2000 of MLC Limited (and related MLC entities) for $4.56bn, one of the biggest mergers in Australian corporate history.

Stalled expansion (2000-2004)

NAB encountered a difficult period in the period 2000-2005. In 2000, NAB sold Michigan National Bank to ABN AMRO, then in 2001 sold HomeSide's operating assets for US$1.9b to Washington Mutual, the largest US savings and loan company, as well as the mortgage unit's loan-servicing technology and operating platform.

HomeSide (USA)

NAB booked two write-downs associated with HomeSide. First, in July 2001, NAB had a $450 million write down of the value of its capitalised mortgage servicing rights (CMSRs) during the quarter ending 30 June 2001, and was the result of exceptionally high mortgage refinance volumes which lowered the value of the CMSRs, combined with a more challenging capital markets environment in which to hedge interest rate risk. This was followed shortly by a second write-down reported in September totalling $1.75 billion; this second write-down consisted of US$400 million from an incorrect interest rate assumption embedded in the mortgage servicing rights valuation model, US$760 million from changed assumptions in the model flowing from the continued unprecedented uncertainty and turbulence in the mortgage servicing market, and US$590 million from writing off of the goodwill. In total, NAB booked $2.2 billion in losses due to HomeSide.

As a result of all these events, NAB's Australian shareholders attempted to sue it in the United States for securities fraud, even though the plaintiffs, the defendant, and the actual securities at issue (NAB's shares) were all located in Australia. The case of Morrison v. National Australia Bank Ltd ultimately ended up before the U.S. Supreme Court, which held in a unanimous 8-0 decision on 24 June 2010 that U.S. law against securities fraud does not apply to securities deals occurring outside of the country.

Foreign currency trader staff fraud

In 2004, NAB discovered that as a result of unauthorised spot trades on its foreign currency options desk, losses totalling A$360 million had been covered up. Investigations by Price Waterhouse Coopers and the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority highlighted a need for cultural change. The losses were a result of a failed speculative position where the traders falsified profits to trigger bonuses over a number of years. In order to actually generate the reported profits, the traders speculated on the US dollar, betting that it would rise against the Australian dollar and other currencies. In 2006, two former NAB foreign currency options traders were sentenced on charges brought by ASIC and incurred jail terms.[11]

Tax evasion and customer overcharging in Ireland

The Irish subsidiary of the bank, National Irish Bank was the subject of a six-year Inquiry carried out by Inspectors appointed by the Irish High Court. They established that National Irish Bank had engaged in overcharging its own customers and tax evasion schemes prior to 1998.[12] Mr Justice Peter Kelly, an Irish High Court judge commented following publication of the Report "The edifice of banking is built on a foundation of trust. On the Inspectors findings there was a breach of trust. The operation was carried out over a period of years in a deliberate fashion".[13] The Director of Corporate Enforcement subsequently applied to the High Court to have 9 senior managers barred from being an officer of any company.[14]

CEO Resignation and Board revolt

The foreign currency trader fraud was the catalyst for the resignations of CEO Frank Cicutto and Chairman Charles Allen.[15] The resignations were preceded by a Board revolt where Catherine Walters emerged as a whistle blower citing serious culture issues at the company having led to the string of failures.[16]

New CEO and turnaround (2004-2009)

In February 2004, John Stewart was appointed CEO of NAB following the sacking of Frank Cicutto.[17] John proceeded with a far reaching re-organisation of the company along regional lines leading to the appointment of Ahmed Fahour as the CEO of Australia in September 2004.[18]

Logo change in Australia 2007

In 2005, NAB announced a cut of 2,000 Australian jobs as part of a global cost-cutting program with the intention of cutting around 4,200 positions – about 10.5% of its total workforce globally.[19]

It began to outsource back office positions offshore, beginning with a pilot with 23 jobs from the accounts payable department in Melbourne going to Bangalore, India in an agreement with Accenture.[20] Later that year, it sold Northern Bank and National Irish Bank to the Danish Danske Bank. Over 200 additional jobs had been sent offshore by 2006.[21]

NAB Headquarters at Melbourne Docklands

As part of the culture change program, a new Australian head office was purpose built at Docklands in Melbourne. This building is characterized by its open plan layout and was officially opened in October 2004.[22][23] After Cameron Clyne became CEO in 2009, the Docklands building became the global headquarters replacing 500 Bourke Street.

By 2006, NAB had turned its fortunes around, reporting an industry record $4.3 billion profit and winning two local Bank of the Year awards. It also had a major reform which included the refurbishment of all of its branches, and the replacement of signage in and around National branches and buildings, being changed from 'National' to 'nab'.

In May 2007 NAB announced that it would delist from the New York Stock Exchange,[24] and this took place in Aug 2007. NAB delisted from the London and Tokyo exchanges in 2006.

In March 2008 NAB announced that it would send maintenance and support for some core banking applications to India through an offshoring arrangement with Infosys and Satyam, affecting another 260 employees.[25]

On 25 July 2008, NAB's announcement of an additional A$830 million provision associated with deterioration in US real estate markets triggered the biggest single-day fall in its share price in 21 years, wiping over A$7 billion from the stock's value.[26]

Customer Relationship Management turnaround

NAB is a large user of the Siebel and Teradata CRM systems.[27][28]

Whilst NAB has received recognition as an early adopter and leader in CRM (Customer Relationship Management)[29] the system was reinvigorated in 2004/5 as part of the broader turnaround to support the new focus on cross-selling.[30][31]

NAB also deployed its CRM system system to New Zealand and United Kingdom.

In 2006, NAB was named the winner of the IFS/Cap Gemini Financial Innovation awards for its CRM system, internally called "National Leads".[32]

Launch of UBank (2008)

In October 2008, NAB launched a branchless direct bank bank trading separately as "UBank".[33] NAB stated it aimed to attract new retail customers while operating independently to its other retail brands,[34] and in its 2009 annual report, NAB claimed that this strategy had been "successful".[35]

UBank operates under NAB's banking licence and participates in the Australian government's new deposit guarantee scheme.[36][37] Deposits were said to exceed over $500 million in one month.[38][39]

UBank was cited as an example of effective use of nontraditional marketing such as social media,[40][41] but also uses traditional marketing such as print[42] and television.

NAB claimed UBank's "customer advocacy and satisfaction levels" to be "amongst the highest of any institution in Australia"[43] In August 2009, UBank launched a new online savings account ("USaver") that was reported to differentiate through its easy online application process.[44][45] In its 2009 annual report, NAB claimed "almost 10,000 new customers in a month" for UBank's USaver product.[46]

UBank has been acknowledged as the driver of NAB's fast growth in deposit market share compared to other major banks.[47][48] In December 2009, UBank's USaver online savings account was awarded Money Magazine's "Best of the Best" award.[49] NAB's UBank has been compared to Qantas' Jetstar in terms of a strategy of internal innovation with the objective of opening new market segments for the parent company.[50] In February 2010, NAB stated that strong growth in UBank had positively impacted its household deposits.[51]

June 2010, "New chief appointed to NAB's UBank" Alex Twigg.[52]

At an Investor Briefing in February 2011, Executive Director & Group CFO, Mark Joiner, reported "UBank’s now well over $7 billion" when asked the source of the groups growth in deposits.[53]

In February 2011, UBank launched its first home loan product (dubbed "UHomeloan").[54] Only 10 days after its launch, UBank dropped the interest rate of its loan by 0.10%pa [55]

March 2011 : Cameron Clyne NAB Group CEO in Switzer interview confirms UBank has grown to $10 billion in deposits and will become a full service retail bank.

In October 2011 UBank was internationally recognised for leading retail banking innovation winning the BAI Financial Global Product Innovation Award for its refinance mortgage UHomeloan. [56]

Present Era (2009-)

New CEO & New Strategy

Since his appointment in January 2009,[57] CEO Cameron Clyne has undertaken a strategy of reputation change, wealth management and a focus on Australia.

Retail banking: Price Competition and Differentiation Strategy

As part of this strategy, NAB's underweight retail bank has - under the leadership of Lisa Gray - attempted to increase market share by competing on price and cutting fees.[58] While initially denting earnings in the division,[59] the strategy has been more successful over the medium term, with cash earnings, market share and customer satisfaction all rising since it began in 2009.[60][61]

In line with the strategy, NAB attempted to differentiate itself from the other "Big 4" Australian banks in a large, national public relations campaign centred around a theme of "breaking up" with the other banks on Valentine's day 2011. [62] The campaign received both a positive [63][64] and negative [65][66] reception. It also attracted swift competitive responses from other major banks.[67] The campaign won an advertising award at Cannes. [68]

In 2009, NAB acquired the mortgage business of Challenger Financial Services for $385 million, in order to boost its market share in the broker channel. The purchase also included the PLAN, Choice, and FAST mortgage aggregation businesses and approximately 17.5% in Homeloans Ltd.[69]

Wealth: Acquisition Strategy

The bank capitalised on the post GFC environment to attempt a number of acquisitions for its wealth management division.

In June it paid A$825m ($660m:£401m) for UK insurer Aviva's Australian wealth management businesses, including their Navigator platform. NAB beat off competition from AMP for Navigator.[70] In July 2009 NAB acquired an 80% stake in the private wealth management division of Goldman Sachs JBWere, for A$99m.[71]

In December 2009 NAB began a 9 month attempt to purchase AXA Asia Pacific. This attempt was blocked twice by the ACCC. The first time, in April 2010, was because the regulator believed that the merger would cause a substantial lessening of competition in the retail investment platform market. NAB subsequently lodged a revised bid which aimed to address these concerns however was rejected a second time in September of that year.[72] The AXA deal's drawn out process drew criticism for the Bank's under performance.[73]

Technology: Core System Upgrade and Transaction Processing Failures

Clyne has accelerated the bank's core banking platform upgrade, dubbed "NextGen", which is replacing legacy systems which are up to 40 years old with an Oracle-based solution.[74] UBank was reported to be the first beneficiary of this project.[75][76] In total, the project is expected to be completed in 2014 and cost $1 billion.[77]

On 24 November 2010, NAB suffered a system malfunction resulting in the failure of accounts processing.[78] As a result, many NAB customers suffered, as well as non NAB customers.[78] The malfunction was caused by a corruption of a irreplaceable system file.[78] This issue has been dubbed by some commentators as one of the biggest failures in the history of the Australian banking system.[79]

Mergers and acquisitions activity

Year Entity bought/sold (A)quisition/ (D)ivestiture
1918 Colonial Bank of Australasia A
1922 Bank of Queensland A
1948 Queensland National Bank A
1955 Ballarat Banking Company A
1981 Commercial Banking Company of Sydney A
1987 Clydesdale Bank A
1987 Northern Bank A
1992 Bank of New Zealand A
1993 Bank of South Pacific D
1995 Michigan National Bank A
1997 Homeside Lending A
2000 MLC A
2000 Michigan National Bank D
2001 Homeside Lending D
2005 Northern Bank D
2008 Great Western Bank A
2009 Aviva A
2009 Goldman Sachs JB Were A
2009 Challenger Financial Services A

Key people

Board of Directors

Name Type
Michael Chaney Chairman
Cameron Clyne Executive Director (Group CEO)
Patricia Cross Non-Executive Director
Daniel Gilbert Non-Executive Director
Mark Joiner Executive Director (Group CFO)
Paul Rizzo Non-Executive Director
Jillian S Segal Non-Executive Director
John Thorn Non-Executive Director
Geoffrey Tomlinson Non-Executive Director
Michael Ullmer Executive Director (Group Deputy MD)
Sir Malcolm Williamson Non-Executive Director
John Waller Chairman of BNZ
Anthony Yuen[80] Non-Executive Director (Group Managing Director, Asia Pacific, Royal Bank of Scotland)

Executive Committee

Executive Title
Cameron Clyne Group Chief Executive Officer
Michael Ullmer Deputy Chief Executive Officer
Lisa Gray Group Executive Personal Banking
Joseph Healy Group Executive Business Banking
Rick Sawers Group Executive Wholesale Banking
Steve Tucker Group Executive Wealth
Lynne Peacock CEO United Kingdom
Mark Joiner Finance Director
Bruce Munro Group Chief Risk Officer
Andrew Thorburn Group Executive New Zealand, Asia and the United States
Gavin Slater Chief Executive Group Business Services
Michaela Healey Group Executive Group Governance

Past chief executives

Service years CEO
2009- Cameron Clyne
2004–2009 John Stewart
1999–2004 Frank Cicutto
1990–1999 Don Argus

Corporate Social Responsibility

Key Initiatives

In 2008, NAB invested $33.5 million in corporate responsibility initiatives. Its target is to spend 1% of cash earnings before tax in this area.[81] In 2009, NAB become the largest Fairtrade accredited workplace in Australia through purchasing Fairtrade tea, coffee and hot chocolate for their offices and retail branches.[82] In March 2010 NAB stated it expected to save nearly $1 million in annual power costs from a $6.5 million tri-generation plant at its main data centre.[83] NAB became one of Australia’s largest carbon neutral companies in September 2010.[84] NAB ranked equal first among financial service companies in the Global 500 companies in the 2010 Carbon Disclosure Leadership Index.[85]

Sponsorship and scholarships

During this period, NAB emerged as a major sponsor of Australian rules football, both at grassroots and elite level. It supports Auskick, an initiative to improve young footballers, as well as the NAB Cup (an Australian Football League pre-season competition), the NAB AFL Rising Star award; and the AFL National Draft. Other significant sporting sponsorships included the Socceroos, and the 2006 Commonwealth Games. Support is also given towards community group volunteers around Australia. In recent years, NAB has provided financial support and relief to drought affected farmers and helped in the cleanup of flood affected in Queensland and Victoria. From 2008-2010 NAB is sponsoring the South Sydney Rabbitohs.

NAB has also sponsored the Sheikh Fehmi El-Imam Scholarship, designed to help strengthen the links between NAB and the Muslim community and enables an undergraduate student to continue post-graduate studies in finance and economics.[86]


While NAB operates in several jurisdictions globally, it earns the bulk of its revenue from its Australian operations. The bank owns two retail/commercial banks in the UK, Yorkshire and Clydesdale. In NZ it operates BNZ and in the US it owns a small agribusiness focussed bank called Great Western. The Business Banking and Wholesale divisions of NAB have offices in London, New York, Hong Kong, Singapore, Tokyo and Shanghai. These are aimed at servicing the needs of corporate and institutional customers, which include market risk management (eg foreign exchange or interest rate hedging), trade finance and bond issuance.

Revenue by geography in 2010 is summarised in the table below.[87]

Region Revenue share
Australia 74%
UK 14%
New Zealand 7%
USA 4%
Asia 1%

Financial summary

Sourced from NAB financial results.[88]

Financial Year Cash Profit, $m Total Assets, $b
2010 4,225 686
2009 3,841 654
2008 3,916 657
2007 4,386 612
2006 3,782 484
2005 3,156 423


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  80. ^ "ASX Announcement: Anthony Yuen appointed to National Australia Bank Board". National Australia Bank Limited. 2010-02-04. 
  81. ^ "2008 Shareholder Review". National Australia Bank. Retrieved 2009-02-20. [dead link]
  82. ^ "NAB Corporate Responsibility Newsletter - July 2010". NAB. Retrieved 20 January 2011. 
  83. ^ "Tri-generation plant to cut bank's energy bill". The Australian. 23 March 2010. Retrieved 20 January 2011. 
  84. ^ "NAB achieves carbon neutral status (with carbon offsets)". Dynamic Business. 30 September 2010. Retrieved 20 January 2011. 
  85. ^ "Environment". NAB. Retrieved 20 January 2011. 
  86. ^ "NAB Sheikh Fehmi El-Imam Scholarship". NAB. Retrieved 14 April 2010. 
  87. ^ 2011 Half Year Financial Results
  88. ^ "Financial Results". NAB.,,32862,00.html/. 

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