March 17 (Bloomberg) -- Macquarie Group Ltd. Chairman David Clarke, the longest serving member of Australia’s biggest investment bank, has resigned due to ill health, 19 months after returning to the post following cancer treatment.
The Sydney-based company’s lead independent director Kevin McCann, 70, today replaced Clarke, 69, Macquarie said in an e-mailed statement. Spokeswoman Paula Hannaford declined to disclose the nature of Clarke’s illness in a telephone interview.
McCann, who sits on the boards of Origin Energy Ltd. and BlueScope Steel Ltd., will oversee a firm expanding in the U.S., Canada and Latin America. The company, which last month cut its second-half earnings forecast, risks being caught in an unsustainable position as it’s “squeezed” between Wall Street giants and smaller advisory firms, UBS AG said last month.
Clarke is one of Australia’s “great business leaders” and helped turn Macquarie into a global operation with 15,500 employees from its predecessor firm Hill Samuel Australia that had just 12 staff in 1971, McCann said in the statement. McCann carried out Clarke’s duties when he took a nine-month leave of absence starting November 2008 for medical treatment.
“I speak for every board member, past and present, when I say it was an honor to serve with David to build a successful global operation from such small beginnings,” McCann said in today’s statement.
Macquarie shares rose 0.1 percent to A$34.71. The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index was little changed.
Clarke was appointed joint managing director of Hill Samuel in 1972, before being appointed managing director in 1977 and executive chairman in 1984, Macquarie said in the statement. He held the post of executive chairman of Macquarie from 1985 to March 2007, when he ceased executive duties.
In 1988, Clarke formed Poole’s Rock Wines, a wine company best known for its Chardonnay with vineyards in the Hunter Valley region of New South Wales. The producer also sells the Cockfighter’s Ghost and Firestick brands.
Clarke’s nephew, Andrew Clarke, is the chef at the vineyard’s award-winning Rock Restaurant, according to the company’s website.
Clarke has also been chairman of Macquarie’s philanthropic arm, the Macquarie Group Foundation, since it was created in 1985, and served on the boards of charities including the Salvation Army and the Children’s Cancer Institute Australia, according to a statement from the investment bank.
McCann has been an independent voting director of Macquarie Group since August 2007, and on Macquarie Bank Ltd.’s board since December 1996. McCann is Chairman of Origin Energy, Australia’s largest energy retailer, and a director at BlueScope, the nation’s biggest steelmaker.
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