HSBC nearing a verdict on chairmanship

A SUCCESSOR to HSBC chairman Stephen Green could be announced as soon as next week, it emerged over the weekend.

Former Goldman Sachs investment banker John Thornton is still widely tipped as one of the favourites to step into Green’s shoes after he resigned to become trade and investment minister in the coalition government.

However, it is understood that HSBC’s board is considering its alternatives carefully, including appointing its senior independent director Sir Simon Robertson as chairman on an interim basis, with a view to appointing a permanent successor in a few years’ time.

Robertson, who also spent time at Goldman Sachs as chairman of its London business, currently chairs Rolls Royce, meaning that some juggling will have to take place to afford him time to conduct both roles.

HSBC’s board will meet in Shanghai next week, with Green’s replacement top of the agenda for discussion.

HSBC insiders also believe chief executive Michael Geoghegan is still in the running for the chairmanship, despite talk that he would prefer to stay in an executive position, particularly given his recent relocation to Hong Kong. A source at the bank last week told City A.M. that a move for Geoghegan “should not be ruled out”.

The bank said yesterday that a decision had not yet been made and that it had only undertaken to announce a successor before the end of the year.

Green, who has already stepped down from his positions as chairman of the British Bankers’ Association and deputy president of the CBI, is due to relinquish his role at HSBC before the year is out to take up the last remaining vacancy in David Cameron’s government.