The HSBC Holdings Plc headquarters building, center, stands illuminated at dusk in Hong Kong on April 27, 2020. (ROY LIU / BLOOMBERG)
HSBC Holdings Plc is considering relocating a handful of senior executives from London to Hong Kong or Singapore as Europe’s largest lender bets its future on Asia.
The bank is mulling moving London-based Greg Guyett and Georges Elhedery, the co-heads of its investment bank, to Asia, people familiar said, declining to be identified as the details are private. Other direct reports to Chief Executive Officer Noel Quinn are also being considered for relocations, placing more top decision makers in the region where it makes the bulk of its money, the people said. The moves are being considered as HSBC prepares to announce the outcome of a strategic review this month.
The bank is mulling moving London-based Greg Guyett and Georges Elhedery, the co-heads of its investment bank, to Asia, people familiar said, declining to be identified as the details are private
A spokesman for HSBC in London declined to comment. Shares of HSBC gained as much as 1.3 percent to HK$41.9 in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region as of 9:40 am on Thursday, while the benchmark Hang Seng Index fell 0.3 percent.
HSBC is planning to shift billions in capital to Asia, in particular to the Chinese mainland, to reignite profitability as it scales back or exits businesses in Europe and the US where less economic momentum and rock-bottom interest rates has made it difficult to make money. Having more executives in the region will show investors and policy makers that it’s serious about its expansion plans.
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HSBC is almost a year into a major restructuring that was partially held back by the pandemic outbreak and is expected to update its plans alongside full-year results on Feb 23.
The lender this week announced the opening a new office in Guangdong to steer a push into the Greater Bay Area, a project to create an economic powerhouse of a region with more than 72 million people. The London-based bank makes about two thirds of its pretax income in the HKSAR, but is still relatively small on the mainland even though it has outlets across more than 50 cities.
HKSAR Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor has endorsed a stronger presence for the bank in the SAR.
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HSBC has also been seeking to deploy more resources in Southeast Asia, where it has been struggling to compete with dominant players such as Singapore’s DBS Group Holdings Ltd and rival Standard Chartered Plc. HSBC also recently announced it would expand into private banking into Thailand.
Along with its rivals, HSBC is also poised to benefit from increased trade flows after 15 Asia Pacific nations agreed to lower tariffs in the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership signed in late 2020.
“Economic realities mean that what we were planning to do in February we need to be even more urgent in doing,” Chairman Mark Tucker told the virtual Asian Financial Forum in January. “We are accelerating the plan by confirming areas of focus for the bank, especially in Asia where we see real opportunities to grow our wealth business and expand across South Asia,” he said.
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Tucker’s contract is up for renewal ahead of HSBC’s annual general meeting.
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