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HSBC boss Quinn suddenly quits

 (PA Wire)
(PA Wire)

The boss of HSBC, Noel Quinn, said today he will retire after five years in the job in a surprise announcement that leaves a gaping hole at the top of Europe’s largest bank.

He has been at HSBC for 37 years, becoming CEO in 2019 when John Flint was forced out by chairman Mark Tucker.

Quinn, 62, had given no indication that he was looking to move on.

He said: “After an intense five years, it is now the right time for me to get a better balance between my personal and business life,” Quinn will stay until a successor is found.

Tucker said Quinn has “has driven both our transformation strategy and created a simpler, more focused business that delivers higher returns”.

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Matt Britzman, equity analyst, Hargreaves Lansdown, said: “HSBC has thrown a spanner in the works. News that CEO Noel Quinn plans to retire came as a surprise. Change at the top usually causes a wobble, more so when it's unexpected, and this does raise some questions about how the strategy will evolve from here. The HSBC portfolio is going through a reshuffle, and Quinn’s far from completing his mission to get costs under control.”

Last week HSBC sold its Argentinian arm as part of plans to simplify the business. It makes most of its profits in Asia.

In the first quarter of the year HSBC made profit of $12.7 billion. That is down 1.8%, but better than City analysts had expected.

It will buy back another $3 billion of shares. HSBC shares rose 1p to 669p. They are up 13% in the last year.

Gary Greenwood at Shore Capital expects further share buybacks to come in what he called a “positive update”.

Banks have largely recovered from the 2008 financial crisis, delivering record profits in many cases.

The shares remain out of favour however, with margins on mortgages tight.

Mr Quinn said he planned to “pursue a portfolio career going forward”. That means he wants several smaller roles, perhaps as a non-executive on boards of different companies.

Quinn was paid more than £10 million last year, compared to average pay at the bank of £63,000.