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Is Flint the man for HSBC?

HSBC’s next chairman will tell you everything you need to know about the bank’s future.

Stephen Green

The announcement that Bob Diamond will take over as chief executive of Barclays – probably the least surprising piece of news of the past three years to many in the banking industry – dominated the headlines in the UK today, even in the mainstream media. But there was a much more intriguing announcement today: the news that Stephen Green is stepping down as executive chairman of HSBC from the start of next year.

Green’s departure to pastures new is no immediate surprise. His future role as a minister in the UK’s coalition government makes sense as well. Green has always been careful to communicate his strongly-held convictions that capitalism must have a caring side. This would no doubt appeal to bank-bashing business secretary Vince Cable.

The breaking of the story this morning seemed to catch HSBC on the hop. The bank issued its statement at around 13.00BST today. Green was leaving, as the wires had suggested, but there was no information about how he would be replaced. It was, perhaps, a painful lesson that Whitehall is much more leak-ridden than Wall Street or Canary Wharf.

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