Hsbc: Stuart Gulliver's New Travels

The investment banking chief is on a rescue mission

What does the venerable HSBC need with "a pit bull with an IQ of 180"? That's how one former colleague describes Stuart Gulliver, a 41-year-old Englishman who was promoted to chief executive of HSBC Investment Banking & Markets in Hong Kong in May. The answer is simple: Despite the bank's 135-year presence in Asia and its $220 billion in assets there, HSBC Holdings PLC last year ranked only 13th out of 14 in the region (excluding Japan) for equity research. It had been losing deals to U.S. rivals and watching much of its senior talent walk out the door. "It had become dysfunctional," says an executive who recently resigned.

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