HSBC CEO Threatens to Resign if Not Promoted

After sharing a £38 million ($59 million) bonus bonanza earlier this year, executives at Europe's biggest bank are now fighting over the chairman role. In fact, Michael Geoghegan (pictured), the CEO of HSBC (HBC), has threatened to resign from his job if he is not promoted to the position, the Financial Times reported, citing two unnamed people familiar with the bank's succession planning.

The global financial services firm, which has emerged healthier than many others from the financial crisis thanks to its focus on emerging markets, particularly Asia, is expected to select a replacement for Stephen Green at a board meeting next Tuesday in Shanghai. Green is stepping down as chairman at the end of the year to become the U.K.'s trade minister.

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Traditionally, the bank has awarded the chairman role to its CEOs, but this time it's set to abandon the tradition, creating a boardroom succession scuffle. According to the FT, Geoghegan reacted badly to the suggestion that he might be passed over. Geoghegan, who already had an annual salary of just over £1 million, got an estimated £800,000 pay raise this year for relocating to Hong Kong. He received bonuses of £4 million ($6.2 million), which he donated to charity. In 2010, he stands to make, according to some sources, far more.

Candidates in the running include front-runner ex-Goldman Sachs banker John Thornton, finance director Douglas Flint and Simon Robertson, the non-executive who is leading the succession process, although that would almost certainly force him to give up his chairmanship of Rolls-Royce, the FT added.

If Geoghegan did resign, the favorite to succeed him as CEO would be Stuart Gulliver, currently the investment bank head and the best paid HSBC exec, the FT said. Although, according to people close to him, Geoghegan is known for his hot temper and might not follow through with the threat.
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