Cycling has been one of the great British sporting success stories for more than a decade, as the likes of Chris Hoy, Bradley Wiggins, Mark Cavendish, Victoria Pendleton and Chris Froome delivered countless Olympic gold medals on the track and numerous yellow and green jerseys on the roads of the Tour de France.
But in the past couple of years some of the shine has come off that golden era, as British cycling’s reputation suffered amid allegations of bullying by its coaches and less-than-transparent drug use by some of its top riders.
So who better to clean it up than the new chairman of British Cycling Frank Slevin? Euromoney remembers Slevin well from his banking days, especially in Asia, where he made his name at first BNP Paribas and then Citigroup, before joining in HSBC in 2007 to become head of banking for the region.
Slevin was always immaculately turned out and talked a good game about HSBC’s ambitions to do better in traditional investment banking activities in its core region. Most of the advances the bank has made in bringing its banking, markets and commercial banking activities together in Asia came after his departure.
Since then, Slevin has built a portfolio of senior non-executive chairman roles in the UK for the likes of department store chain House of Fraser and toy shop Hamleys. On his appointment to those roles, Slevin’s lack of experience in the notoriously complex UK retail sector was questioned by some analysts.
In recent days, House of Fraser announced disappointing trading conditions over the vital Christmas period, and rumours grew that it was seeking to renegotiate rent agreements with its landlords.
But Euromoney can vouch for Slevin’s knowledge of and long-term commitment to cycling. He was often seen to be cycling up, down and around Hong Kong’s peaks. Indeed it was always something of a priority for him.
So much so that HSBC legend has it that on one occasion, shortly after joining the bank in Asia, he turned up in full Lycra cycling kit at an offsite he was hosting, even riding on to the stage to give the opening remarks to his new reports. From then on, some of those bankers referred to him internally as “budgie”.