HSBC chief tipped to step down in 2 years

Mr Flint (far left), HSBC Holdings chairman, and Mr Gulliver, the bank's CEO, have announced 87,000 job cuts, exited over 80 businesses and cut the bank's global presence to 71 countries and territories since 2011. The bank has not commented on the S
Mr Flint (left), HSBC Holdings chairman, and Mr Gulliver, the bank's CEO, have announced 87,000 job cuts, exited over 80 businesses and cut the bank's global presence to 71 countries and territories since 2011. The bank has not commented on the Sunday Times report that Mr Gulliver will step down in two years. PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

Bank to appoint new chairman first to help pick next CEO and will consider internal, external applicants: UK paper

LONDON • Mr Stuart Gulliver, chief executive officer of HSBC Holdings, will stand down in two years as the British bank replaces its top leadership, The Sunday Times has reported.

The lender has started compiling a list of internal candidates and will also consider external applicants, the newspaper said, citing unidentified sources. The bank plans to appoint a new chairman first to help choose the next chief executive, the Sunday Times report said, after HSBC said last month that it plans to nominate a successor to chairman Douglas Flint next year.

HSBC is revamping the board after coming under pressure from shareholders unhappy about its performance. 

Since 2011, Mr Gulliver and Mr Flint have announced more than 87,000 job cuts, exited more than 80 businesses and reduced the bank's sprawling global footprint to 71 countries and territories, from 88 originally.

The bank declined to comment on the Sunday Times report. The lender will hold a shareholders' meeting in Hong Kong soon.

The two executives are the longest-serving duo at the helm of a major European bank. Scotland-born Mr Flint, 60, joined as finance director of Europe's largest bank in 1995 before being named executive chairman in 2010.

Senior independent director Rachel Lomax is leading the search for Mr Flint's replacement.

Oxford-educated Mr Gulliver, 57, started at HSBC in 1980 and excelled as a trader, rising through the ranks to become CEO in 2011. 

Before his appointment as group leader, he was chairman of HSBC's Europe, Middle East and global businesses, and chief executive of global banking and markets, according to a profile on the bank's website. He has held roles in cities including London, Hong Kong and Tokyo.

Mr Hugh Young, Asia managing director of Aberdeen Asset Management, one of HSBC's top 10 shareholders, said he was aware of the Sunday Times report but did not know if it was true when contacted by Bloomberg.

For HSBC, Mr Gulliver has done "a lot of tidying up, just bringing it back to the Asian roots", said Mr Young. "He has done a bloody good job in such awful circumstances."

The bank hired AXA chief executive Henri de Castries and former Diageo head Paul Walsh as independent non-executive directors in November last year, replacing longstanding members of the board who are stepping down.

Mr De Castries is tipped to be Mr Flint's likely successor, The Sunday Times reported last month, without saying where it obtained the information.

HSBC shares in Hong Kong fell 0.35 per cent to close at HK$48.95 yesterday.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 19, 2016, with the headline 'HSBC chief tipped to step down in 2 years'. Print Edition | Subscribe