HSBC CEO Flint makes shock exit

The London-headquartered lender gave no reason for Flint's sudden departure after just 18 months in the job, but said there was "no personal clash." 
HSBC CEO Flint makes shock exit

John Flint

HSBC yesterday announced the shock exit of chief executive John Flint but denied talk of a management split as it also axed 4,000 jobs and warned of dark clouds on the horizon.

The London-headquartered lender gave no reason for Flint’s sudden departure after just 18 months in the job, but said there was “no personal clash,” adding it needed a change at the top.

Asia-focused HSBC also revealed it would axe 2 percent of its global workforce, or roughly 4,000 mostly management jobs, in a new restructuring aimed at weathering global turmoil.

“HSBC Holdings plc announces that John Flint has today stepped down as Group Chief Executive and as a director by mutual agreement with the board,” a statement showed yesterday.

The exact amount Flint will get as a payoff remains unknown until he leaves.

The surprise news came shortly before HSBC reported first-half net profit up 18.6 percent at US$8.5 billion from a year earlier.

“In the increasingly complex and challenging global environment in which the bank operates, the board believes a change is needed to meet the challenges that we face and to capture the very significant opportunities before us,” said HSBC’s chairman Mark Tucker.

Addressing rumors that Flint was pushed out after a management bust-up, Tucker told reporters that there had been “no personal clash” and “no disagreement over strategy.”

Flint, 51, who has spent three decades at HSBC, was keen to lower costs with HSBC facing the double uncertainties caused by the US-China trade friction and Brexit. “I have agreed with the board that today’s good interim results indicate that this is the right time for change, both for me and the bank,” he said.

Flint replaced Stuart Gulliver, who had embarked on a huge restructuring program to axe 50,000 jobs and exit core markets.

Gulliver also decided to switch 1,000 jobs to Paris from London owing to Britain’s looming departure from the European Union.

HSBC said Noel Quinn, its commercial banking division chief, would serve as interim CEO. The lender said it planned a buyback of HSBC shares worth up to US$1 billion.

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