NAB appoints Wesfarmers chief executive as chairman

SYDNEY: Australia's largest bank, National Australia Bank Ltd (NAB), recovering from a damaging board row, said yesterday it has appointed one of the country's most respected executives as its future chairman. 

Michael Chaney

NAB said Wesfarmers Ltd chief executive Michael Chaney would join the board in December and take over as chairman in September 2005 following his retirement from the hardware, farming and energy conglomerate. 

Chaney will replace Graeme Kraehe as NAB chairman after a series of embarrassing setbacks for the bank, including a foreign exchange trading trading scandal that claimed the scalps of former CEO Frank Cicutto and former chairman Charles Allen. 

Kraehe, who took over as chairman in February, became embroiled in an embarrassing brawl with director Catherine Walter in the aftermath of unauthorised forex trading, which cost the bank A$252mil. 

Walter eventually agreed to step down, two other directors resigned and Kraehe promised to leave by mid-2005, instead of in “the next few years” as he had said earlier. 

Kraehe said yesterday that NAB also expected to announce additional board appointments in the next couple of months to fill vacant positions. 

Chaney, 54, has been chief executive of Wesfarmers since 1992, during which the former farmers' cooperative has increased its market value from A$1bil to more than A$10bil. 

He is also a director of mining giant BHP Billiton Plc/Ltd and investment bank Gresham Partners Holdings Ltd. – Reuters  

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