NAB Plans To Offload UK Banks

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In an effort to bounce back after a sluggish decade, National Australia Bank (NAB) will be announcing their plans to offload the UK businesses from the core Australian business of the bank. Andrew Thorburn, NAB's chief executive since Cameron Clyne's departure in August, will share the fate of the Yorkshire and Clydesdale banks when the company reveals its full-year profits this week.

"The market is not expecting strong numbers from NAB with this result," UBS analyst Jonathan Mott said. "It is looking for Andrew Thorburn to be a change agent to address its sustained underperformance."

The UK operations of Australia's fourth largest lender-one of the 'big four'- have had a tough time through the global recession and a more recent misguided selling plan. It has been known for a while now that NAB has been interested in exiting the UK market. Experts say if Thorburn can lay out a clear plan to successfully navigate a UK exit, it would be a big win the short tenure of the top banker.

Analysts believe a float through an initial public offering of the UK operations is likely over the next six months. The IPO market in the UK on its way to heating up again, following the uncertainty the country faced before a vote on Scotland's once-potential independence.

Currently, NAB is working out the details of the US-based Great Western Bank IPO, and has announced hefty write-downs. The departure from the foreign-based business signals a closer focus on its core Australian operations, particularly its flagship business bank.

Analysts in the UK believe that a float is likely over the next six months. Because there is no uncertainty now that a decision has been reached regarding Scotland's once-potential independence, many believe the IPO market in the UK will again heat up. Other announcements analysts expect include the outlook for NAB's wealth business MLC, and whether or not its life insurance business will be sold.

Information sourced from The Age.


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