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HSBC: Up ’n’ under

HSBC’s global headquarters in Canary Wharf hosted an entirely different type of journalist last month at the press conference announcing the British bank’s sponsorship of the British and Irish Lions for their 2009 tour of South Africa.

Lions Legends the boyband: "I just want this bank for good"

Hacks more used to the sports club pressroom were thus introduced to the stadia of investment banking. "Bloody hell," exclaimed one. "No wonder they overcharge their customers. I’m glad I don’t bank with this lot." HSBC is very proud of its sports sponsorship programmes, which have included investments in baseball, golf and ice hockey. But the bank is especially pleased with its latest sporting venture. "In the world of corporate banking, rugby is the sport," professed David Hodgkinson, COO of HSBC Holdings.

Dyfrig John, the Welsh CEO of HSBC Bank, was less succinct, spending as he did most of the press conference gushing over Gareth Edwards, the "finest living Welshman", and one of the "Lions legends" that were in attendance. Representing Scotland was record points scorer Gavin Hastings, while Paul Wallace, player of the series in the 1997 Lions tour of South Africa, was there on Ireland’s behalf. England’s 2003 world cup-winning captain, Martin Johnson, completed the quartet.

While the assembled hacks enjoyed lunch on HSBC following the conference, one was left wondering why on earth a financial journalist had been invited to a press conference that had absolutely no bearing on the capital markets.

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