86 400 founding CEO to depart following NAB takeover

The founding CEO of a neobank purchased by NAB for $200 million says he will leave in the new year just four months after the acquisition was completed.

86 400 CEO Robert Bell announced earlier today he would step down after nearly four years in the role after starting from scratch to build a digital bank that has sold $1 billion in home loans.

“With NAB’s full support and Ubank/86 400 coming together next year I’ll be following the future success from the sideline,” he said in a post on the career-focused social media website LinkedIn.

“I announced today I’ll be stepping down as CEO of 86 400 early in the new year. I’ll do so with an enormous amount of pride in what the team has been able to build together,” Mr Bell said.

He will be replaced by UBank CEO Philippa Watson who was appointed in mid-2020 after former UBank CEO Lee Hatton left NAB for AfterPay via a short stint at Suncorp. Ms Watson reports to NAB COO Les Matheson.

The acquisition of 86 400 with around 120 employees and close to 100,000 customers was one of two large deals announced by NAB. In August, it confirmed it would buy Citi’s credit card business and around 1 million customers for $1.2 billion.

In an email to staff sent on Tuesday, Mr Matheson announced both Mr Bell and 86 400’s chief product and marketing officer Travis Tyler would move on to new opportunities in 2022. He thanked them both for their hard work.

“UBank CEO Philippa Watson will assume responsibility for both UBank and 86 400, with the 86 400 management team reporting directly to Philippa,” Mr Matheson said.

Mr Matheson said Ms Watson’s deep experience in consumer banking ensured she was well-placed to continue the integration work and transfer 86 400’s banking licence to NAB.

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