asia

HSBC splits Asia leadership as it increases focus on China


HSBC will split its top leadership role in Asia between China and the rest of the continent, as the bank navigates a closer relationship with Beijing while piling more capital and resources into the region.

Peter Wong, who has been the lender’s chief executive in Asia for a decade, is to be replaced by co-heads David Liao, who will oversee its China strategy, and Surendra Rosha, who will manage the rest of the region.

Liao, currently the group’s head of Asia-Pacific global banking, is from Hong Kong and previously ran HSBC in China. Rosha, chief of its Indian operations, has worked at the bank for 30 years.

The timeline of the handover, which was first reported by Bloomberg, has not been finalised but could come as soon as this summer, according to a person close to the bank.

Wong, who is 69, is expected to remain at the bank as a non-executive chair for its Asian business, the person said. The overhaul is part of a shake-up of the bank’s global leadership that will also see four of its top executives relocating to Hong Kong from London. HSBC declined to comment.

HSBC chief executive Noel Quinn started identifying candidates to replace Wong at Christmas. The succession plan was a crucial part of his strategy to accelerate HSBC’s pivot to Asia, which is central to its growth ambitions.

Wong’s retirement comes at a tricky time for the lender, which has headquarters in the UK but makes the bulk of its profits in Hong Kong. It has become caught in a geopolitical tussle between China and the west.

Wong, a member of a political advisory body to China’s Communist party, was key to smoothing tensions between the bank and Beijing over its role in the arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou. However, HSBC was criticised by the UK, US and shareholders last year when Wong publicly endorsed a controversial national security law imposed by Beijing on Hong Kong.

As part of a strategy revamp in February, Quinn promised he would “move the heart of the business to Asia”, while unveiling a deeper cull of underperforming operations in Europe and the US.

He has committed $6bn of new investment in Hong Kong, China and Singapore and sold the bank’s French and US retail branch networks to galvanise an overhaul, announced in 2020, that aims to redeploy more than $100bn of capital to Asia and slash 35,000 jobs.

HSBC has made expanding in wealth and asset management a priority in the region — particularly China, Singapore and India — and has pledged to invest $3.5bn and hire more than 5,000 wealth advisers.



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