Thursday 6 February 2020 9:52 am

HSBC will not appoint new boss until after strategy shake-up

HSBC will not name a permanent chief executive when it unveils a major strategic overhaul later this month, despite investor expectations that a new boss would be in place before the plan is announced. 

Noel Quinn, who was appointed interim chief executive of the bank six months ago, is preparing to announce the strategic shake-up alongside HSBC’s full-year results on 18 February. 

Read more: HSBC set to axe senior managers in strategy shift

The cost-cutting drive will involve a new round of job cuts targeting senior managers and reducing the bank’s presence in smaller markets, according to Reuters. The Financial Times reported in October that the restructuring e could involve up to 10,000 top losses.

HSBC chairman Mark Tucker had previously said that the search to replace John Flint, who was ousted as chief executive in August last year after just 18 months at the helm, would take between six and 12 months. 

But three of the bank’s top 20 shareholders told the FT they were expecting either Quinn or an external candidate to be named as Flint’s successor before the overhaul was unveiled. 

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Citing four people briefed on the plans, the paper reported that the search for a permanent chief executive was still ongoing. 

A spokesperson for HSBC declined to comment on the reports, but reiterated that the process of appointing a permanent chief executive would take six to 12 months. 

HSBC posted a 19 per cent drop in profit for the third quarter, a performance Quinn branded “not acceptable”.

Quinn has previously told Reuters: “There is scope throughout the bank to clarify and simplify roles, and to reduce duplication”.

Read more: Ex-HSBC executive sues top managers including former boss John Flint

“It would be very, very odd to have what is being trailed as a large restructuring effort, potentially the most radical we’ve seen from the bank, that is not implemented by the guy who designed it,” one top 20 shareholder told the FT.

“They have had six months, which is long enough to assess internal and external candidates, so if they’re not announcing someone, it is quite obvious there is an internal debate as to whether Noel is the right person.”

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