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HSBC appoints former top Citi banker Forese to the board

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Via Financial Times

HSBC has appointed Jamie Forese, formerly a top executive at Citigroup, as a director, adding an experienced US banker to its board as it seeks to turn round its struggling North American business.

Mr Forese, who had once been touted as a future chief executive of Citi, resigned as president of the US bank almost a year ago following a three decade-long career that started when he joined Salomon Brothers, which was acquired by Citi in 1998. Most recently he had been in charge of Citi’s investment bank.

One person briefed on the appointment of Mr Forese, who will join the board on May 1, said his experience would help HSBC as it attempts to revive its stuttering US business. Until Mr Forese’s appointment, none of the bank’s directors had significant experience of the US banking industry.

Last month, Noel Quinn, HSBC’s interim chief executive, announced plans to close around a third of its US branches as part of a broader restructuring that will see the bank shed 35,000 jobs over the next three years.

Mark Tucker, HSBC’s chairman, said that Mr Forese’s “wealth of experience across finance and corporate strategy, together with his extensive knowledge of banking and across financial services, will bring an invaluable perspective to the board.”

Mr Quinn resisted calls from some investors to sell the US retail business, arguing that the bank can cater to well-off Americans who want to deal with a lender that has global reach.

“If I wanted an easy headline and an easier day-to-day, I’d have just made the decision to sell the US retail business, but I genuinely don’t believe that’s the right answer,” Mr Quinn said at the time.

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Mr Forese, 57, will be paid £244,000 per year, consisting of £127,000 for his role as non-executive director; £113,000 for his membership of various board committees; and a £4,000 travel allowance.

HSBC is searching for a permanent chief executive since the ousting last August of John Flint, who had spent just 18 months in the job. Mr Quinn was subsequently appointed in an interim capacity.

The search had appeared to be approaching a conclusion last month after HSBC identified Jean Pierre Mustier, the chief executive of UniCredit, as its preferred external candidate, setting up a two-horse race with Mr Quinn. However, Mr Mustier ruled himself out, prompting the bank to continue looking for external contenders.

HSBC has said the search could last until August.

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