Bank giant HSBC is within days of naming a new chairman amid speculation the post will be filled by City veteran Simon Robertson, it was reported today.
Robertson, who is chairman of Rolls-Royce and a senior director at HSBC, could take the role on a temporary basis while the bank grooms former Goldman Sachs executive John Thornton for the position, the Sunday Times said.
Mr Thornton had been seen as the leading candidate to fill the space left by Stephen Green, who is to become trade minister in the coalition government. He is already a non-executive director at HSBC and has strong connections in China, where the bank is expanding.
The idea of Robertson taking the role on a temporary basis is thought to have emerged in investor meetings to discuss succession planning.
It will give the bank time to prepare Mr Thornton to take the chairman’s seat on a permanent basis in two or three years time.
However, the newspaper added that some members of the HSBC board favoured the appointment of another British executive in the belief that this will aid the bank’s public image.
Mr Thornton, who is 56 and would have to move to London to take the job, is currently professor at the Tsinghua University School of Economics and Management in Beijing.
He spent 22 years at Goldman Sachs before resigning in 2003.
The world’s third-largest bank is scheduled to hold a board meeting in Shanghai in the next fortnight, where a decision on the new chairman is expected to be made, the report added.