LONDON, March 12 (Reuters) - HSBC Holdings Plc is lining up Mark Tucker, currently chief executive of insurer AIA Group Ltd , to be the next chairman of Europe’s biggest bank, sources with direct knowledge of the matter said on Sunday.
Regulators in Hong Kong and London have signalled they will approve the appointment, one of the sources said, paving the way for Tucker to take up the role in the autumn.
Tucker, the former head of insurer Prudential, and once a trainee professional soccer player in Britain, would become HSBC’s first ever externally-appointed chairman at a bank renowned in the industry for recruiting from within.
The appointment would mark the end of an era at HSBC, ending one of the longest-serving chairman and chief executive pairings at a European bank and would likely trigger the search for a replacement to CEO Stuart Gulliver.
A spokeswoman for HSBC said the lender would nominate a chairman to replace Douglas Flint this year, as previously announced.
“Our process remains on track and the timetable is unchanged,” she said in an email.
Tucker took the helm of Hong Kong-based insurer AIA, formerly the Asian arm of U.S. insurer AIG, in 2010.
Having led AIA’s stock market flotation in the same year, Tucker has since overseen the insurer’s expansion in Asia across 18 markets to become the world’s second-largest life insurer with a market capitalisation of over $78 billion.
His experience leading both a large Britain-based company and a Hong Kong-listed insurer will stand him in good stead to oversee HSBC, whose most profitable markets are in Britain and the Asian financial hub.
Tucker is currently a non-executive director at U.S. investment bank Goldman Sachs, a role he will have to resign from when he takes the chairman’s seat at HSBC.
Last month, HSBC said the bank was not a position where it had a shortlist of candidates to replace Flint, but expected to identify his successor this year.
Sky News first reported the potential appointment on Saturday.
Flint, 61, became chairman of HSBC in 2010 after serving as its finance director since 1995. He and Gulliver have spent the last few years shrinking HSBC, exiting more than 80 businesses and cutting over 43,000 jobs as the post-2008 crisis environment proved harsh for global mega-banks.
Flint in recent years attempted to strike a conciliatory tone with often hostile investors at the bank’s annual general meetings, where he often came under fire over perceived excessive pay for top HSBC bankers.
He has also been at the forefront of the banking industry’s lobbying after Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, testifying before the upper house of parliament that banks need a longer transition period than the two years currently set out after article 50 is triggered to start exit talks. (Reporting by Lawrence White; Editing by Mark Potter)