* AIA Group boss Mark Tucker named HSBC chairman
* Tucker will take over as group chairman Sept. 1
* AIA says Ng Keng Hooi to succeed Tucker
* Tucker to identify successor to Chief Executive Gulliver
(Adds analyst comment, share price, details on remuneration)
HONG KONG/LONDON, March 13 (Reuters) - HSBC Holdings Plc
, Europe's biggest bank, tapped an outsider for its top
job on Monday, appointing insurance veteran and AIA
Group boss Mark Tucker as chairman to replace Douglas Flint, who
plans to step down in 2017.
A one-time professional footballer who has held several
leadership jobs including running Britain's Prudential,
Tucker will take over as group chairman designate from Sept. 1
and as non-executive group chairman on Oct. 1.
The bank's shares rose 1.2 percent in Hong Kong on Monday on
news of the appointment, which market-watchers said signalled
the bank's ongoing pivot towards Asia and steadier, lower-risk
"The appointment of a safe pair of hands like Tucker
potentially signals an increasing focus on steadier,
annuity-style income streams where HSBC has a competitive
advantage and which are also set to benefit as interest rates
rise," said Benjamin Quinlan, CEO of Hong Kong consultancy
Quinlan & Associates.
"It also highlights a renewed focus on risk and compliance
after HSBC recently got itself in hot water with regulators. The
strategy now is all about stability and predictability."
Among the first tasks for Tucker - whose appointment breaks
with HSBC's usual practice of appointing insiders for its top
jobs - will be to identify a successor to HSBC Chief Executive
Stuart Gulliver, a process expected to conclude in 2018.
Flint and Gulliver's departure from HSBC after six years
will end one of the longest-serving management partnerships at a
major global bank.
The pair slashed over 43,000 jobs and sold assets worldwide
as they attempted to shrink the group back to profitability amid
a tough environment for global banks.
With more than $1.2 trillion in customer deposits, HSBC has
suffered more than most lenders from low global interest rates
which have made it difficult to invest deposits profitably.
HSBC's full-year profit slumped 62 percent and fell far
short of forecasts last month as the bank took hefty writedowns
from restructuring efforts and flagged near-term brakes on
In choosing the next chief executive, Tucker will first have
to decide whether to promote one of the lender's existing senior
executives or select an outsider like himself.
For his efforts, Tucker will receive an annual fee of 1.5
million pounds ($1.83 million) in addition to standard benefits,
His basic salary at AIA in 2015 was $1.5 million, but
short-term and long-term incentives could bring that total as
high as $9.9 million, according to AIA's latest annual report.
Leading internal candidates for the CEO role include HSBC's
Europe chief Antonio Simoes and retail and wealth management
head John Flint, while former Goldman Sachs banker Matthew
Westerman is seen by some internally as a candidate despite
overseeing a relatively small part of the investment bank.
Among external candidates, Lloyds Banking Group
Chief Executive Antonio Horta-Osorio is the name most frequently
cited by investors.
An exodus of senior talent from the industry in the wake of
the global financial crisis had made it "extremely challenging"
to find very senior executives, Quinlan said.
The new CEO's main challenge will be to restore revenue
growth at HSBC. The bank's return on equity, a key measure of
performance, slumped last year to less than one percent compared
with 7.6 percent the year before and far short of a long-term
target of 10 percent.
Other obstacles to boosting HSBC's profits include low
demand for loans in its twin home markets of Britain and Hong
Kong, reflected in a loan-to-deposit ratio of 67 percent, below
most of the lender's global peers.
HSBC also faces slowing economic growth in China, dampening
hopes that an Asia pivot strategy announced last year could
boost returns for the bank.
While HSBC’s share price has barely risen during the tenure
of Flint and Gulliver, the pair can point to successes,
including the shrinking of the bank following a pre-2008 era of
excessive empire-building and a clean-up of its culture.
In a separate statement, AIA said Ng Keng Hooi,
its regional chief executive, will succeed Tucker from Sept. 1.
Tucker is also stepping down from the board of Goldman
($1 = 0.8219 pounds)
(Reporting by Sumeet Chatterjee and Lawrence White in Hong
Kong, and Anusha Ravindranath in Bengaluru; Additional reporting
by Michelle Price in Hong Kong; Editing by Stephen Coates)