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HSBC Innovation Banking chair departs in latest boardroom reshuffle

Banking giant HSBC last year launched a new global division, called Innovation Banking, housing the former UK arm of Silicon Valley Bank as part of a push into technology and life sciences (Tim Ireland/PA) (PA Wire)
Banking giant HSBC last year launched a new global division, called Innovation Banking, housing the former UK arm of Silicon Valley Bank as part of a push into technology and life sciences (Tim Ireland/PA) (PA Wire)

The chair of HSBC Innovation Banking has stepped down in the latest sign of a boardroom reshuffle at the firm formerly known as Silicon Valley Bank UK.

Darren Pope, who had been a director of the bank since 2021, formally resigned at the beginning of last week, according to company filings.

The 58-year-old, who also serves as a board member of Virgin Money and previously worked at Lloyds, is to be replaced by Mridul Hegde, is an existing independent non-executive director at HSBC Innovation Banking UK and its parent HSBC UK, where she chairs the risk committee.

HSBC Innovation Banking said Darren “stepped down to focus on his existing board commitments and to pursue other opportunities.”

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Darren has been very supportive of me and the broader business during some major milestones ­for our bank, clients and team, including the transition from SVB UK to HSBC Innovation Banking,” said CEO Erin Platts.

“We wish him all the best in his future roles.”

In March, Chief Operating Officer Patrick Flynn was removed from the board and removed as a director of the company. However, he remains COO. HSBC said the move was made because COOs don’t sit on the boards of its other subsidiaries, so the bank had to fall into line.

The UK arm of Silicon Valley Bank was sold for £1 to HSBC last year in a rescue deal that narrowly averted a major disaster in London’s key tech sector following the collapse of the bank’s US parent.

The sale was announced at 7am following a frantic weekend of high stakes talks involving Rishi Sunak, Jeremy Hunt and Bank of England governor Andrew Bailey. Tech leaders had warned the Chancellor of chaos in one of Britain’s fastest growing industries with mass insolvencies and thousands of job losses if SVB was allowed to go under, with as many as four out of 10 UK tech firms holding accounts with the bank.

This week the boss of HSBC, Noel Quinn, who led the takeover talks, said 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.

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.”