No Change to HSBC Asia's Focus Under New CEO

HSBC Holdings' Asia focus and push into emerging markets will remain in place, analysts said on Friday, after news that its CEO could step down following a management shake-up.


Chief Executive Michael Geoghegan, having recently relocated from London to Hong Kong, will be replaced by the head of its global banking division Stuart Gulliver, a source said, with the Financial Times reporting that he is expected to leave by the end of the year.

"The overall broad strategy is going to remain constant," said Dominic Chan, an analyst at BNP Paribas. "The Nedbank purchase and everything they've said recently all says they're not going to suddenly change direction and decide they want to be an investment bank."

Talk of a management reshuffle pushed Hong Kong-listed shares of HSBC down about 1 percent, lagging a flat performance on the benchmark Hang Seng Index.

Geoghegan had threatened to quit if did not receive the role of chairman, the Financial Times had reported earlier, following Stephen Green's departure for a ministerial position in the British government.

Gulliver's expected appointment has also been taken as a sign the bank may ramp up its investment banking business, a segment where it has traditionally been weak.

This would make Gulliver the second investment banking chief to be named chief executive of a top British bank this month, following Bob Diamond's appointment as CEO of Barclays.

HSBC usually promoted its chief executive to the non-executive chairman's position, but Finance Director Douglas Flint had emerged as a leading candidate for the job after Green left, a person familiar with the matter told Reuters on Thursday.

"It's an unusual move, but with banking becoming an increasingly regulated sector, Flint is actually a good choice," said Daniel Tabbush, an analyst at CLSA in Bangkok. "He's a conservative player who knows the business well, has a clear understanding of accounting systems in various countries, as well as how profitable each country is, so he's going to represent some continuity."

Chairman and CEO roles, which were often combined in previous generations, are being split to enhance corporate governance after the financial crisis revealed the need for independence at the top structures of financial institutions.