Geoghegan to Look Outside Banking as 37-Year HSBC Career Ends

HSBC Holdings Plc. CEO Michael Geoghegan
HSBC Holdings Plc. CEO Michael Geoghegan. Photographer: Jerome Favre/Bloomberg

Michael Geoghegan, who will step down as chief executive officer of HSBC Holdings Plc at the end of the year, is looking for a challenge of a different kind after running Europe’s largest bank for the past four years.

“I’m fairly entrepreneurial, so you’ll probably find me back into something, not in banking, but something else rather entrepreneurial,” Geoghegan, 56, told reporters today in Shanghai, where London-based HSBC’s board is meeting. Geoghegan said he wouldn’t work for the government, and declined to comment on whether he will join another company.

HSBC, Europe’s biggest bank, on Sept. 24 ended two-and-a-half weeks of speculation about who would succeed Stephen Green as chairman by replacing all three of its most senior executives. Green, who quit on Sept. 7 to become U.K. trade minister, will be replaced by finance director Douglas Flint after Geoghegan struggled to attract investor support for the chairmanship.

Geoghegan, who failed to get the backing of any investor in a Bloomberg survey of 20 HSBC shareholders last week, said today it’s the right time for him to leave. The CEO increased his executive powers in February when he moved to Hong Kong to sharpen HSBC’s focus on Asia.

The bank has no plans to change its business mix and hasn’t reached any decision on moving its headquarters, according to incoming CEO Stuart Gulliver.

The lender and rivals including Barclays Plc and Standard Chartered Plc may be forced to move their headquarters out of Britain if the government decides to break up the banks, Gulliver said earlier this month. HSBC was founded in Hong Kong and Shanghai in 1865.


Shares of HSBC gained 1 percent to HK$81.15 at the 12:30 p.m. trading break in Hong Kong. The shares have dropped 9.2 percent this year.

Flint, who succeeds Green in early December, said today that the need for a “huge amount of reforming regulatory framework” and building emerging market franchises are the major challenges facing the bank.

HSBC’s chairmen have been former CEOs for at least the past 33 years.

“Each time we do the right thing for our shareholders and the management team,” Green said today referring to Geoghegan not being promoted to the chairman role.

Geoghegan will be paid 1.42 million pounds ($2.25 million) when he leaves and will be eligible for a bonus of as much as 4.2 million pounds for 2010, HSBC said last week. He will also be a consultant for three months after his retirement.


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