Westpac New Zealand chief executive Peter Clare has resigned from the company in order to recover from major heart surgery, the transtasman bank has announced.

"Following a recent, major medical procedure to correct a heart condition, Mr Clare has decided it is the right time to take an extended break and provide himself with the best opportunity to make a full recovery," Westpac said in a statement.

Clare, 50, an Australian, joined Westpac in 2008 and took over the top job at the New Zealand division from fellow Aussie George Frazis in early 2012.

He has been on leave since May.


The bank said acting Westpac New Zealand chief executive David McLean would continue to act in the role while an internal and external search was carried out in order to find Clare's replacement.

"Peter played a very important role in executing the merger with St.George Bank," said Westpac group chief executive Gail Kelly. "He successfully led our product and operations division and established a strong platform on which the group continues to build."

Kelly said Clare had delivered "all-round solid results".

Clare said it had been a privilege to lead Westpac New Zealand and its 4600 staff.

"The New Zealand business is in good shape and I know that the team will continue to ensure it goes from strength to strength. I look forward to watching its continued success," he said. "However, following my recent, successful surgery to correct a heart condition I have decided that now is the right time to have an extended break to ensure a complete recovery."