Europe's top bank HSBC names new management

24th September 2010, Comments 0 comments

HSBC, Europe's largest bank, said Friday that Stuart Gulliver, head of its investment arm, would replace Michael Geoghegan as chief executive and chose finance director Douglas Flint as its new chairman.

"Douglas Flint will succeed Stephen Green as Group Chairman and Stuart Gulliver will be appointed Group Chief Executive, following Michael Geoghegan's decision to retire early next year," HSBC said in a statement.

The dramatic overhaul at the top of HSBC caps a tumultuous period for the bank since Green recently announced he was quitting, with neither of the two men widely expected to become the next chairman ending up in the job.

"As a result of Stephen Green's decision to step down earlier than planned, Michael Geoghegan suggested and the Board agreed to accelerate HSBC's management succession plan and appoint his successor, so that a new leadership team would be in place in 2011," HSBC said in Friday's statement.

"Michael Geoghegan will therefore step down as Group Chief Executive and from the Board on 31 December 2010, but will continue to be employed by the Group in an advisory capacity until 31 March 2011 when he will retire."

Hong Kong-based Geoghegan, 56, was regarded as a frontrunner and HSBC has a history of elevating its chief executive to chairman.

The Financial Times reported this week that he had threatened to quit when the bank's board indicated it might pass him over and instead hand the chairman's job to HSBC non-executive director John Thornton.

Thornton, a former Goldman Sachs banker, was the other main contender for the job but choosing between him and Geoghegan proved too difficult for the bank's board, according to the FT.

Flint emerged as a compromise candidate, said the paper.

The promotion of Gulliver meanwhile is the second time in a month that a highly-paid investment banker has been elevated to chief executive of a major bank, following Bob Diamond's appointment at Barclays.

Diamond's appointment proved hugely controversial in Britain, where the US national is infamous for pocketing massive bonuses.

The post of HSBC chairman became available when Green was appointed Britain's trade minister on September 7.

Green, who spent 28 years at Asia-focused HSBC, is leaving the bank in rude health after steering it through the global financial crisis without taking a government bailout.

© 2010 AFP

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