After a stellar 35 year career with Macquarie Bank, David Clarke signs off as an executive today to begin a new phase as non-executive chairman.

Truth be known, Clarke hasn’t actually been full-time at the bank since it floated in 1996. Each year he traditionally received half the number of options as CEO Allan Moss, because he was only spending about half his time working on Millionaire Factory matters.

For instance, Clarke was chairman of Goodman Fielder during a fairly unspectacular period in its history from 1995 until 2000 and has chaired McGuigan Simeon Wines since 1991.

However, the days of pocketing more than $11 million a year will now be over and Clarke has stood down from the executive committee and as chairman of Macquarie ProLogis, Macquarie Office and Macquarie Countrywide.

Losing the bidding war for Alinta to Babcock & Brown wasn’t exactly the farewell party Clarke was hoping for today, but Macquarie Bank shares are up 80c to $81.80, meaning his shares and options are worth $91 million, more than two-third of which is clear profit. BRW might even finally come to its senses and include Clarke on the Rich List this year.

Clarke has attempted to lash out at excessive corporate governance and box ticking in a farewell interview with The AFR, declaring that it is stopping him from taking on additional public company directorships. The AFR editorialised as follows this morning:

Mr Clarke used the public company structure in inimitable style, creating vast wealth for shareholders and MacBank executives. But upon his retirement from the bank, the most eligible of prospective board members discounted the chance he would serve as a public company director. He is not alone.

If this was true, Clarke would actually resign from his already heavy on-going public company workload. Anyone who is chairman of Macquarie Bank, McGuigan Simeon Wines and Macquarie Goodman is already overloaded with responsibilities.

Clarke is not really retiring. For instance, he’s got $14 million worth of Macquarie Goodman shares and has decided to remain as chairman of the $11.4 billion industrial property giant despite it not having any ongoing ties with the bank.

He’s also got his own private wine business to run and remains as chairman of the Macquarie Bank Foundation. The “I won’t join any boards” line is just a cheap shot at corporate governance which the envelope pushers at Macquarie Bank have to learn to live with.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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