Back in March 1865, a Scot named Thomas Sutherland thought it might be a good idea to open a bank in Hong Kong to take advantage of growing trade with China. The result was HSBC.
February 2010 will be another landmark month in HSBC’s history. That’s when the financial services firm will relocate its CEO back to Hong Kong, in a move ripe with symbolism. In what marks a first for a major multinational firm, the decision to put Michael Geoghegan into the Beijing timezone is another indicator of China’s rising commercial clout.“We see China in particular, and Asia in general, as the best sources of growth over the next decade or more for HSBC, because the world macro-economy is shifting from the West to the East,” HSBC’s Chairman, Stephen Green told the China Daily.
“Operating from Hong Kong, I will be on the ground in our largest and most important region,” agrees Geoghegan. The Wall Street Journal headlined the move as ‘HSBC re-emphasises its H’ i.e. Hong Kong. But some think it is equally about the ‘S’ (it is, after all, the ‘Hong Kong and Shanghai’ bank). HSBC has made it clear that it would like to be the first international firm permitted to list in Shanghai. Geoghegan’s relocation must bolster its chances.
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