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Tucker to step down from Goldman Sachs board to become HSBC chairman; HSBC CEO to depart in 2018

Mark Tucker, chief executive officer of AIA Group.
Jerome Favre | Bloomberg via Getty Images
Mark Tucker, chief executive officer of AIA Group.

AIA chief executive Mark Tucker will step down from the board of Goldman Sachs and take up the role of chairman at HSBC, Europe's biggest bank.

Tucker's appointment is the first time HSBC has ever tapped an external candidate to take the chairman position in its 151-year history.

The insurance chief will replace Chairman Douglas Flint, a longtime HSBC veteran. News of the shift comes as HSBC Chief Executive Stuart Gulliver also plans to step down in 2018, marking the end of one of the longest-lasting chief executive-chairman pairings at a European Bank.

Meanwhile, AIA confirmed in a statement that Tucker's replacement at the company would be Ng Keng Hooi, its regional chief executive.

One source told Reuters that London- and Hong Kong-based regulators have indicated that they will approve Tucker's appointment, paving the way for the former Prudential executive to step in as chairman this fall. If approved, Tucker is set to take on the group chairman designate role on Sept. 1 and the non-executive group chairman position on Oct. 1.

HSBC announced plans to name Flint's successor in 2016, amid pressure from investors to boost the company's sliding shares. As HSBC's next chairman, Tucker would spearhead the search for the company's next CEO.

Tucker took the helm of Hong Kong-based insurer AIA, formerly the Asian arm of U.S. insurer AIG, in 2010.

Having led AIA's stock market flotation in the same year, Tucker has since overseen the insurer's expansion in Asia across 18 markets to become the world's second-largest life insurer with a market capitalization of over $78 billion.

His experience leading both a large Britain-based company and a Hong Kong-listed insurer will stand him in good stead to oversee HSBC, whose most profitable markets are in Britain and the Asian financial hub.

HSBC's leadership shakeup comes as the bank sets new goals for the near future. Flint and Gulliver were known for pushing the bank to restructure and adapt to a stricter regulatory environment following the 2008 financial crisis.

Starting in 2011, the two executives' five-year plan made the bank cut back on global operations, shuttering businesses worldwide. Most of the bank's Latin American businesses were closed as a result. During their term at HSBC, the pair cut more than 43,000 jobs at the bank in a bid to return to profitability in a difficult operating environment.

Despite a 2012 settlement that forced HSBC to pay $1.9 billion for ignoring possible money laundering in its system, Flint and Gulliver were seen by investors as a strong pair.

Still, some shareholders pushed the bank to speed up the executives' departure, leading the two to announce plans to leave in 2016.

At HSBC's annual meetings in recent years, Flint was often questioned by displeased investors about what they saw to be excessive pay for the bank's top employees.

The veteran chairman also made headlines as a leading lobbyist from the U.K. banking industry after Brexit, during which he argued before upper parliament that banks would need longer than the stated two years to transition after leaving the European Union.

—Reuters contributed to this report.