Robertson hired to beef up HSBC board

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The Independent Online

HSBC, Europe's biggest bank, unveiled a top-level reshuffle yesterday that saw its chief operating officer and an independent director step down and the chairman of Rolls-Royce brought in to beef up investment banking experience on the board.

No replacement was announced for Alan Jebson, the chief operating officer since 2003, who will retire at HSBC's annual shareholder meeting after 28 years with the company. He was in charge of the bank's property and information technology, and his role may be split.

Sir John Kemp-Welch, a non-executive director of HSBC since 2000, is replaced by Simon Robertson, a past president of Goldman Sachs Europe and the former chairman of its rival investment bank Dresdner Kleinwort Benson.

Mr Robertson, who quit Goldman in August, is a non-executive chairman of the aeroplane engine maker Rolls-Royce and a director of The Economist Newspaper, the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden, London, and the fine wine merchant Berry Bros & Rudd.Dyfrig John, the chief executive designate of HSBC's British banking operation, will also become a group managing director in March.

The shake-up is the latest change to the bank's board since the announcement in November that Sir John Bond, its chairman, would retire to be replaced by the chief executive Stephen Green in a reshuffle that flies in the face of corporate governance rules.

The rules, which were brought in after a report by Sir Derek Higgs, frown upon the promotion of a chief executive to the chair, to safeguard the independence of the role.

HSBC said it was too big and diverse to appoint an outsider.