Macquarie chairman steps aside after illness

AUSTRALIAN investment bank Macquarie yesterday made the shock announcement that its founder and chairman David Clarke would stand down.

Clarke’s departure comes 19 months after he returned to work from nine months’ leave to be treated for cancer.

The bank described him as one of Australia’s “great business leaders”. He worked 40 years at Macquarie, from when he was joint managing director of Hill Samuel Australia in 1971. The company that was to become Macquarie had just 12 staff at that time. Clarke was appointed managing director in 1977 and executive chairman in 1984. He was executive chairman from 1985 until March 2007.

Clarke has been a successful wine grower, producing an award-winning range of wines under the Hunter Valley label.

He has been a prominent member of the Liberal Party, but fell out with leader John Howard over university fees. More recently he has taken part in street protests against coal seamgasmining in the Hunter.

At 69, he is a year short of the age at which he recently said he would “think about retirement”.

Clarke hands over the reins to new chairman Kevin McCann, 70.