Outgoing National Australia Bank chairman Michael Chaney has said one of the most “disappointing” parts of his 10-year tenure has been the time the group has taken to exit the its Clydesdale and Yorkshire bank businesses in the UK.

Speaking at NAB’s annual general meeting, held at the Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre in Western Australia, Mr Chaney said offloading Clydesdale and Yorkshire banks had been held up by the UK recession and regulatory changes following the global financial crisis.

He said: “This was a significant factor in our shareholder returns not being at the level we would have liked, relative to our competitors.

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“However, I am pleased that while the process has been extremely complex, NAB is on track with its demerger and proposed Initial Public Offering (IPO) of our Clydesdale and Yorkshire banks in the UK, to be completed early next year, subject to shareholder approval at the Extraordinary General Meeting on January 27.”

Mr Chaney went on to urge shareholders to vote in favour of the demerger stating it will “allow NAB to focus on investment in its higher-returning core businesses in Australia and New Zealand.”

He added: “As I retire after ten years as chairman of the National Australia Bank, I am pleased to be able to report that your company is in good shape. We have a strong balance sheet, are well-positioned for growth and are close to exiting our low-returning legacy assets.”

Andrew Thorburn, the NAB chief executive, also told the meeting he was looking forward to focusing solely on its core markets.

He said: “Our focus is very much on our Australian and New Zealand franchise. We hold good positions in our home markets and have operated here for well over a century.

“We know the risks and opportunities in these markets.

“As part of this, we have undertaken a disciplined exit plan including the sale of Great Western Bank in the US, and Clydesdale Bank in the UK.”

Clydesdale, which is run by chief executive David Duffy, is on course for a stock market flotation in early February.

Around 25 per cent of its equity will be sold to new investors with the remainder held by NAB shareholders.