HSBC chair set to quit bank soon

Steve Dinneen
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STEPHEN Green is set to step down as executive chairman of HSBC as part of a massive overhaul of its management structure.

Former Goldman Sachs banker John Thornton is understood to have been lined up to succeed Green. The firm will break from tradition by making the chairman a non-executive role.

The move is part of a radical shift in the structure of the board, sparked by investor frustration over the perceived closed shop at the top of the bank.

Thornton, a non-executive director at HSBC, rose to prominence at Goldman, where he worked directly under then-chief executive Hank Paulson. He was tipped to take the reins at the bank but quit in 2003 after an epic power struggle with his boss.

He will be the first person who has not risen through the HSBC ranks to take the role. Thornton is also expected to be named as head of the bank’s remuneration committee at its annual meeting this week.

An HSBC spokesman told City A.M.: “Stephen and the management team are 100 per cent focused on the job, one of the reasons HSBC has fared differently to most banks over the last 24 months.

“It’s silly to speculate on the medium to long-term future other than to state the obvious – that is, of course we have succession plans for key positions. HSBC is renowned for its benchstrength and orderly management.”