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HSBC moves Group CEO to HK
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HSBC Group announced Friday that it would relocate its Group Chief Executive from London to Hong Kong in February, a move in line with its strategy to focus on emerging markets.

"The move further positions the group for the shift in the world's center of economic gravity from West to East," said the HSBC in a statement.

Stephen Green, Group Chairman of HSBC, told a Xinhua reporter in a phone interview that the decision came from the expectation that China mainland as well as Hong Kong and Taiwan in particular and Asia in general, are set to be the best source of growth over the next decade or more for HSBC.

According to Green, HSBC's business in Hong Kong and the mainland accounted for one third of the bank's world business.

"But we do expect the percentage to increase over time because we expect the economy, particular of the mainland, to continue to be, probably, the fastest growing economy in the world," he said.

The Group Chief Executive Michael Geoghegan will move to Hong Kong from Feb. 1, 2010, but will also maintain an office and a regular presence in London, according to the statement.

The relocation is aimed to fully realize growth potential of "the group's strategically most important region" for the Group Chief Executive to operate from Hong Kong, the hub for HSBC's Asia-Pacific business, said the bank.

HSBC Holdings PLC, the holding company of the HSBC Group, however, would remain domiciled in the United Kingdom and has no plans to move, according to the statement.

Founded in Hong Kong and Shanghai in 1865, the London-based HSBC Group is the largest international bank in the Asia-Pacific region, with total assets worth 2.4 trillion U.S. dollars at the end of June.

"The additional management presence in Hong Kong and focus on HSBC's faster-growing markets is absolutely right for HSBC and entirely consistent with the strategy set out in 2006," said Green.

"The move of HSBC does not mean the bank is pulling away from London, but operating from the two equally strategically important centers, i.e. Hong Kong and London," he said.

According to Green, there will be a very close-working relationship between London and Hong Kong, which, he said, "is essential to the successful development of the HSBC group over the long term".

The HSBC will focus primarily on the emerging markets, particularly Asia, the Middle East and Latin America, and also look at growing its business in Africa which is at the moment very small, he said.

Green said that the move is not linked to HSBC's possible listing in China's security market. But he said that HSBC would be very interested in listing in Shanghai if and when the Chinese authorities permit foreign companies to list there.

The bank said Michael Geoghegan will also become Chairman of the Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Limited, the bank's Asian unit, to succeed Vincent Cheng on 1 February 2010.

Cheng, who has chaired HSBC's Asia business since 2005, will continue to report to the Group Chairman, and he remains an executive director and will continue to help the bank develop its businesses in the Chinese mainland, Hong Kong and Taiwan, according to the statement.

(Xinhua News Agency September 26, 2009)

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