By Margot Patrick
LONDON-- HSBC Holdings PLC on Thursday named retail head John Flint as its next chief executive, signaling continuity in the Asia-focused bank's strategy.
Mr. Flint, the preferred pick of outgoing CEO Stuart Gulliver, has been with the bank since joining in 1989 after college and has held key roles in its treasury, asset-management and retail businesses. His current role is CEO of retail banking and wealth management and before that he was Mr. Gulliver's chief of staff for a year.
The naming of a new CEO comes less than two weeks after Chairman Mark Tucker started in his new role. Mr. Tucker, HSBC's first outside chairman since the bank's founding in 1865, was tasked with finding a new CEO after Mr. Gulliver said in March he would retire in 2018. Mr. Flint, 49 years old, will start the role in February.
Even before formally joining the bank's board in September and taking over as chairman this month, Mr. Tucker met with internal and external candidates. He was hired as chairman in March from AIA Group Ltd., where he was CEO.
In an interview, Mr. Tucker said finding the next CEO had been almost his sole project since leaving AIG at the end of May. He said he was struck by Mr. Flint's "vision and passion" for the bank and his record of building high-performing teams.
The mix of having a chairman from outside and an insider CEO was also compelling, Mr. Tucker said.
"We felt he was the best and optimal fit," he said.
HSBC, founded in Hong Kong, for decades was focused on expanding its footprint across the world. From 2011 under Mr. Gulliver and former Chairman Douglas Flint--to whom the new CEO isn't related--that focus shifted to cope with a new regulatory environment and tougher economic conditions after the financial crisis. HSBC shut dozens of businesses, exited swathes of the globe and spent billions of dollars on improving its financial crime fighting systems after entering a 2012 deferred prosecution agreement in the U.S. over sanctions and antimoney laundering breaches.
Because of Mr. Tucker's outsider status, analysts had expected the new CEO to be either Mr. Flint or another internal candidate. The bank's share price was unchanged after the announcement.
Mr. Tucker said he, Mr. Flint and the board have been working to set out the bank's next opportunities and priorities, and that some parts of the current strategy could be "enhanced and accelerated." More details will come after Mr. Flint starts, he said.
Rejected internal candidates are expected to remain at the bank, at least for the immediate future, he said. Those include head of global banking and markets Samir Assaf, U.K. and European head Antonio Simoes and Finance Director Iain Mackay, according to people familiar with the matter.
"We don't anticipate any immediate changes," Mr. Tucker said.
Write to Margot Patrick at email@example.com