Management shake-up at Britain's troubled StanChart bank

LONDON (AFP) - Britain's troubled Standard Chartered announced on Thursday the exit of its top two bosses in a radical management reshuffle, as the Asia-focused bank battles to transform its fortunes.

The lender, facing sliding profits, slowing growth in emerging markets, and scandals including the alleged violation of US sanctions on Iran, said in a statement that chief executive Peter Sands will step down in June followed by chairman John Peace next year.

Former JPMorgan investment bank head Bill Winters will replace Sands at the group, which issued three profit warnings over the last 12 months that had sparked shareholder calls for a boardroom cull.

Jaspal Bindra, head of Asia, will also step down from the board in April and leave shortly afterwards.

Standard Chartered shares jumped more than 5 per cent as investors welcomed the management shake-up at the group, which was fined last year for failing to detect possible money-laundering.

"After more than eight years as group chief executive, now is the right moment to hand over to new leadership," Sands said in the shock statement.

"Bill and the team will inherit a more focused and efficient bank with a superb client franchise and a unique network across some of the most dynamic markets in the world."

The outgoing chairman praised Sands, who has been chief executive since 2006, saying he had presided "over a period of huge change and challenge for the entire industry".

'GLOBALLY RESPECTED BANKER'

"Bill is a globally respected banker and has the right experience and skills to drive the group's new phase of growth," Peace added.

Standard Chartered, shirt sponsor of English Premier League football team Liverpool, managed to survive the 2008 global financial crisis without state assistance, unlike many of its peers.

However, the bank has suffered in recent times from a growth slowdown in emerging market economies in Asia, Africa and the Middle East, the regions from which it makes about 90 percent of its profits.

In reaction to the reshuffle, the bank's share price surged 5.37 per cent on Thursday to finish at 976 pence on London's FTSE 100 index, which rose 0.21 per cent to a record closing high of 6,949.73 points.

"Bill Winters is an inspired choice and his experience with JPMorgan will be invaluable in building on Standard Chartered's strong foundations," said Martin Gilbert, chief executive at key shareholder Aberdeen Asset Management.

"At its core, it is a very good bank with a presence in some of the fastest growing parts of the world," he added.

The bank last month said it would close a swathe of its global equities business and axe 2,000 jobs around the world this year as it tries to make savings of US$400 million (S$540 million) in a structural overhaul.

Standard Chartered saw its net earnings fall 16 per cent in 2013 as it faced increased competition in Asia and troubles turning around its South Korean unit.

In August last year, New York state's banking regulator hit the troubled bank with a US$300 million fine and restrictions on its dollar-clearing business for failing to detect possible money-laundering.

The punishment came two years after the bank paid US regulators US$667 million in 2012 to settle charges it violated US sanctions by handling thousands of money transactions involving Iran, Myanmar, Libya and Sudan.

The lender's 2014 results are scheduled for publication on March 4.