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HSBC promotes 1300 staff as investment bank overhaul gathers pace - memo

FILE PHOTO: The HSBC bank is seen in the financial district of Canary Wharf in London, Britain, July 13, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Coombs/File Photo

By Sinead Cruise and Lawrence White

LONDON (Reuters) - HSBC is stepping up a root-and-branch overhaul of its global banking and markets division, naming 83 new managing directors in a 1,300-strong promotions spree aimed at revitalising its investment banking franchise.

After another year of underwhelming performance in 2018, HSBC's management team - bolstered by new finance chief and ex-investment banker Ewen Stevenson - are plotting a push to recover ground lost to rivals, with a revamp of its trading floor seen as top priority, sources close to HSBC said.

Samir Assaf, chief executive of global banking and markets, distributed a memo last Monday pointing out the significant rise in the number of women promoted this year.

HSBC is trying to close a gender pay gap of 61 percent, the worst among major British firms and largely caused by a lack of women in senior, higher paid roles.

Around a third of the 83 new managing directors are female, the memo seen by Reuters showed, a 13 percentage point rise from the previous year, according to a source at the bank with knowledge of the matter.

A spokesman for HSBC declined to comment.

The wave of promotions comes just weeks after the bank axed dozens of sales and advisory jobs in London following an extended period of turmoil in its investment banking operations.

Last year saw an exodus of high-profile dealmakers in Europe, with sources saying there was frustration at a lack of a clear strategy.

36 of the promotions are in HSBC's global banking business, which includes its mergers and acquisitions and equity advisory bankers.

The bank has also poached senior hires from rivals, including former JPMorgan banker Greg Guyett as head of global banking and former Goldman Sachs banker Peter Enns as the global head of its financial institutions group.

HSBC tumbled further in investment banking league tables in some key market segments in 2018, with its fourth quarter performance in equities particularly weak.

Revenues there fell 20 percent from a year earlier, the second worst performance among major investment banks after France's BNP Paribas.

HSBC slipped to 20th among global equity deal bookrunners in 2018 from 16th the previous year, according to Refinitiv data. It also fell to 24th from 19th in the rankings for advising on completed mergers and acquisitions.

The bank fared better in its traditional stronghold of debt underwriting, placing 6th according to Refinitiv data, with revenues growing 14 percent in its transaction banking business.


MOOD LIFT

Investors are pinning their hopes on Georges Elhedery to improve productivity and lift the mood in the bank's global markets business, after he took over the division from caretaker boss Thierry Roland on Friday.

Elhedery, who is relocating to London from Dubai to take up the role, is filling a position vacated by veteran HSBC banker Thibaut de Roux in September last year.

25 of the new promotions are in global markets, and other high-ranking appointments are in progress.

Nathalie Safar, one of the investment bank's most senior women, is leaving her position as global equities chief operating officer after eight years in the role, a second staff memo seen by Reuters showed.

She will take up a newly-created position of head of front to back resource and cost management, focussing on making savings that will fund investments in the bank's growth areas.

A search for her successor is underway, the memo said.


(Editing by Kirsten Donovan)