Exclusive: HSBC UK Bank Boss Poised To Quit

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The head of HSBC (LSE: HSBA.L - news) 's UK retail and commercial business is to quit, marking the latest change at the helm of Britain's biggest branch networks.

I understand that Joe Garner, who was appointed to his current role in December 2010, will step down shortly.

Mr Garner, who also sits on the City regulator's practitioner panel, is understood to have decided to take some time out of the banking industry.

He will be replaced by Antonio Simoes, the high-flying head of retail banking and wealth management in Europe (Chicago Options: ^REURUSD - news) at HSBC. The move has been approved by the Financial Services Authority, insiders say.

The change in management comes at a time of unprecedented reform in Britain's banking sector, with the ring-fencing of retail and investment banking operations high on the Government's agenda.

HSBC, along with the other big high street banks, has been caught up in a number of mis-selling scandals, including those involving payment protection insurance and interest rate swaps.

Mr Garner, who spent his early career at Procter & Gamble (NYSE: PG - news) , the consumer goods-maker, has also worked for Dixons, the retail group.

Depending upon the timing of an appointment, his blend of experience could make him a candidate to become chief executive of the Co-operative Group, which is poised to acquire hundreds of branches from the state-backed Lloyds Banking Group (LSE: LLOY.L - news) .

Mr Garner has been among a growing number of senior bankers who have endorsed changes to Britain's 'free banking' model, saying: "The only truly fair way of charging for banking will be transaction-based pricing."

HSBC, which briefed staff this morning about the management changes, declined to comment.

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