HSBC CEO makes HK homecoming in Asia push

* HSBC CEO begins job at new HK office

* Relocation represents renewed focus on Asia

* Move returns bank to roots, as it aims for China IPO

By Clare Jim

HONG KONG, Jan 27 (BestGrowthStock) – HSBC’s (0005.HK: ) chief
executive started work on Wednesday in his new Hong Kong
office, in a highly symbolic move as Europe’s largest bank
returns to its roots in the fast-growing Asian market.

CEO Michael Geoghegan’s relocation from London, announced
in September, brings HSBC’s power base back to its place of
birth 144 years ago and emphasises the increasing importance of
Asia, and China in particular, to its future growth.
[ID:nLP422830]

“It helps refocus the development of the group back to
Asia,” Paul Lee, an analyst at Tai Fook Research in Hong Kong,
said of the CEO’s relocation, calling it a “positive move”.

HSBC, which has fared better in the global financial crisis
than rivals such as Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc (RBS)
(RBS.L: ), appears to have a full agenda for Asia this year.

It expects to be one of the first companies to list on a
new international board that many expect to launch in Shanghai
this year. The bank hopes to raise $3-$7 billion in that
listing, people familiar with the matter have told Reuters.
[ID:nLC432876]

In a nod to the region’s growing importance, the bank held
a board meeting in Taipei in November and said it was preparing
to boost its China presence by about 20 percent this year,
adding 15-20 new branches to its existing network of about 100.

Geoghegan said in September his move to Hong Kong, where
HSBC was originally known as the Hongkong and Shanghai Banking
Corp, would allow the bank to be faster on its feet in the
region.

POTENTIAL M&A

It would need to be.

HSBC is involved in several potential M&A deals in Asia,
sources have said, eyeing the remaining units that RBS is
selling in the region and a $900 million stake in Thailand’s
Siam City Bank (SCIB.BK: ). [ID:nTOE60H001]

“At least in the foreseeable future, the engine of growth
will be here in Asia rather than in Europe or the U.S.,” said
Tai Fook Research’s Lee. “You need a top decision maker
stationed in the region to act fast and make deals.”

Geoghegan arrived for work at 9 a.m. sharp, and dozens of
employees applauded as he entered the bank’s regional
headquarters in downtown Hong Kong, a Tinker-Toy style tower
designed by British architect Norman Foster.

He posed near the bank’s signature bronze lion statues for
photographers before heading to his office for business.

HSBC (HSBA.L: ) shareholders gave the homecoming a guarded
thumbs-up, bidding the company’s Hong Kong-listed shares up as
much as 1.8 percent in early trade. By 555 GMT, the stock was
up 0.8 percent against the broader market’s (.HSI: ) 0.5 percent
gain.

HSBC competes in China with western banks such as Citigroup
(C.N: ) and Standard Chartered Bank (2888.HK: )(STAN.L: ), as well as
local giants ICBC (601398.SS: )(1398.HK: ) and Bank of China
(601988.SS: )(3988.HK: ).

Stock Trading

(Additional reporting by Doug Young and Don Durfee; Editing by
Muralikumar Anantharaman)

HSBC CEO makes HK homecoming in Asia push