HSBC-Bank-HongKong.jpgSign of the times. HSBC, the London-based banking giant, is to relocate its chief executive’s office to Hong Kong.

Anyone who had been asleep for the past twenty years would wonder what the Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation, as the bank was originally know, was doing in London in the first place.

In 1992, HSBC had to move to London to take over the Midland Bank, one of the original Big Four of British retail banking.

But the western banking market is no longer as attractive as it then was – particularly after the credit crunch.

HSBC clearly believes its greatest growth possibilities lie in Asia rather than in the west and its highly symbolic move will no doubt endear the bank to Chinese authorities.

Michael Geoghegan, group chief executive of HSBC, who will relocate to HK,said:

We can’t get away from the fact that the East is growing at a faster rate than the UK, the US or Europe. In my time it will take over from the west as the most powerful part of the world economy.”

The news has caused much hang-ringing in the UK media, the more conservative elements of which never have really forgiven the British government for handing Hong Kong back to the Chinese in 1999. The shift suggests that the City of London’s traditional pre-eminence in all things financial could come under threat.

HSBC will continue to be Britain’s biggest bank and there are no plans to move the head office or change tax domicile. Stephen Green, HSBC’s chairman, will continue to be based in the UK

More in this Times story.

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