London to remain HSBC's headquarters: chairman

SHANGHAI, Sept 29, 2010 (AFP) - The headquarters of banking giant HSBC will remain in London, departing chairman Stephen Green said Wednesday, dismissing market speculation that its head office might move to Hong Kong.

The lender moved its chief executive to Hong Kong in February to highlight the importance of Asia -- particularly China -- but London remains its headquarters, Green said on the sidelines of a board meeting in Shanghai.

"We have no current plan to change that," Green said.

"Our policy will remain committed to building up our business in China. There is no country strategically more important to us. That's why we brought our board meeting here," Green said, according to Dow Jones Newswires.

Green, who is leaving to become Britain's trade minister, spoke during a break from the meeting that is expected to endorse the recent shake-up of the bank's top management.

HSBC confirmed on Friday that chief financial officer Douglas Flint would succeed Green as group chairman and Stuart Gulliver, its head of investment banking, would replace Michael Geoghegan as chief executive.

The bank, which was established as the Hong Kong & Shanghai Banking Corp. in 1865 to finance trade between Europe, China and India, expects global banking markets to contribute 30-40 percent of its profits, Gulliver said.

Flint said major challenges and opportunities lie ahead as the global financial system continues to recover from the 2008 crisis.

"One is the huge amount of reform in the regulatory framework, and we hope to have a leading role in shaping that framework, and lots of opportunities for us to build our emerging market presence to develop what we've already got," Flint said.

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