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UPDATE 1-HSBC says CEO John Flint to step down

(Adds results, buyback, Chairman comment)

Aug 5 (Reuters) - HSBC on Monday announced the surprise departure of its Chief Executive Officer John Flint, 51, saying the bank needed a change at the top to address "a challenging global environment."

The change comes nearly one-and-a-half years after Flint took helm was announced along with its results, initially scheduled for later on Monday, which showed first-half pretax profit rose 15.9%.

The lender also declared a further buyback of $1 billion, defying some analysts' expectations it might pause its strategy of returning extra capital to investors.

"The board believes a change is needed to meet the challenges that we face and to capture the very significant opportunities before us," Chairman Mark Tucker said.

Noel Quinn, 57, the head of its Global Commercial Banking unit will hold the role of interim CEO, the lender said in a statement.

(Reporting by Aditya Soni in Bengaluru Editing by Nick Zieminski)