London / Hong Kong: HSBC Holdings is moving its chief executive to Hong Kong as Europe’s biggest bank increasingly focuses on Asia.
HSBC said on Friday it will stay based in London for tax purposes and had no plans to move, and Britain’s Financial Services Authority will remain its lead regulator.
But CEO Michael Geoghegan will move to Hong Kong from February, swinging HSBC’s power base back to its place of birth 144 years ago.
“It’s about building this business in Asia. We know the business is coming our way and we intend to be here to take it,” Geoghegan told reporters on a conference call.
“West is coming east and we want to be at the gate into China and be in China itself, and the most logical place to work on that strategy is Hong Kong,” he added.
HSBC wants to be one of the first overseas companies to list its shares in Shanghai, and chairman Stephen Green said it remains in talks with the authorities there to do so. He declined to say when it is likely to happen.
The bank will look to raise between $3 billion and $7 billion as part of a Shanghai listing, probably next year, people familiar with the matter have told Reuters.
HSBC announced several other changes in its management structure.
Geoghegan will also become chairman of The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corp. from February, replacing Vincent Cheung.
Sandy Flockhart will become chairman of personal and commercial banking, and Stuart Gulliver, head of the investment banking business, will become chairman of Europe and the Middle East.
HSBC was formed as the Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation in Hong Kong in 1865 and opened a branch in Shanghai in April the same year.
It moved to London in 1993 as a condition of the previous year’s takeover of Midland Bank, in a move seen as a major blow to Hong Kong.
But the bank is revered in Hong Kong — it is known as “big elephant” — and makes a quarter of its normalised profits and has 30 percent of its shareholders there.
By 0915 GMT HSBC’s London listed shares were up 0.9% at 710 pence, valuing the bank at just over $200 billion.