HSBC has appointed one of the City's most prominent gay bankers to the board

Antonio Simoes could be being lined up to replace chief executive Stuart Gulliver

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HSBC has handed its rising star Antonio Simoes another promotion, encouraging speculation across the City that he is being lined up to eventually replace the group’s current chief executive, Stuart Gulliver.

Mr Simoes, who said earlier this year that being gay has proved to be “an advantage” for him in his career, already runs HSBC’s UK business. He will now add continental Europe to his responsibilities and join the FTSE 100 giant’s executive board.

His promotion comes at an interesting time for Europe’s largest bank by market capitalisation, which is considering whether to relocate its corporate headquarters to Hong Kong because of overbearing regulation in the UK.

HSBC plans to move its ring-fenced UK retail business to Birmingham in 2017 in a move that will result in about 1,000 jobs being relocated from Canary Wharf and the unit renamed.

Mr Simoes, who was also appointed chairman of the Financial Conduct Authority’s practitioner panel this week, joined the bank from the McKinsey consultancy in 2007 and has since risen through its ranks.

In January, he spoke to the Expresso newspaper in his native Portugal about his sexuality. He is married to Tomas, a Spaniard.

“[Being gay] made me a more authentic person, better able to empathise, and with more emotional intelligence. If I wasn’t gay, probably I wouldn’t be CEO.”

He also spoke about conversations with the former BP boss Lord Browne in which the latter admitted it had been difficult to come out because of his age. Mr Simoes said he believed that had all changed last year when Tim Cook, chief executive of Apple, announced that he was gay.