The HSBC chairman, Stephen Green, is to give the banking industry a powerful voice at the heart of the Government by accepting an offer from David Cameron to become his trade minister from the House of Lords.
Mr Green will assume his new role in January, by which time the bank said it intended to have a successor in place. Mr Green had been planning to bring the curtain down on his 28 years at the bank for some months. However, the unexpected offer of a government job meant that the bank was forced to announce his departure early.
While Mr Green holds the title of executive chairman, his role appeared to have moved more in line with the typical non-executive chairman in recent months, particularly following the move of the chief executive, Michael Geoghegan, to Hong Kong, from where he assumed Mr Green's responsibility for strategy.
However, the new chairman at HSBC is still likely to serve in an executive capacity, despite the fact that this violates what is seen as best corporate governance practice. HSBC has long argued that it is now so big that the role of chairman is a full-time job so it should not be considered alongside other companies.
While HSBC said it was considering both internal and external candidates, it would come as something of a surprise if Michael Geoghegan, the current chief executive, followed Mr Green's path. He moved from chief executive to chairman, replacing Sir John Bond when the latter moved to Vodafone.
Were Mr Geoghegan to assume the role, it would further shift the centre of gravity at the bank to Hong Kong unless he made an abrupt return to London.
The City bookmaker Cantor Index has installed the former Goldman Sachs partner John Thornton as its 7-4 joint-favourite alongside Mr Geoghegan. The American is currently serving as professor and director of global leadership at Tsinghua University in Beijing.
The relationships he has cultivated there would prove a godsend to HSBC, which is the biggest foreign bank in China and has repeatedly talked up the country's prospects.Reuse content