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May 26: Sir John Bond bade farewell to HSBC today at an emotional AGM. After 45 years, he leaves behind a bank in good shape but a senior management team about which there must be doubts. Sir John maintained order with a mixture of respect and fear. But will his successor, Stephen Green, have the same talent for promoting the bank with clients around the world and provide his fellow executives with firm direction? Will Michael Geoghegan make an inspiring and visionary chief executive, and how will he and his executive chairman divide their newly-acquired responsibilities? Do either of them have a clear enough idea of how to capture HSBC’s share of capital markets business? Will Stuart Gulliver, who will be sole head of the investment banking arm once John Studzinski leaves, get on as well as he needs to with Geoghegan? And how long will Douglas Flint stay on as finance director? It may take a couple of years before we have answers to these questions. In the meantime, we’ll bring you all the fun and colour from the AGM, where my colleague with the dewy eyes says shareholders “gave Bond a big wet kiss and said thank you very much”.
Sir John will soon take over as chairman of Vodafone, where he will find life much harder than he did at HSBC. He is not used to a board in disarray, a management that isn’t trusted by shareholders and a company facing severe strategic and tactical challenges.
Sanctuary Group, the troubled music group, has sacked its chief executive, Andy Taylor. Bob Ayling has just taken over as chairman. The decision to remove Taylor was related to certain issues relating to the presentation of the group’s accounts, Sanctuary said.
For a real treat, make a special effort to listen to Sir Digby Jones on Desert Island Discs today. You can listen to it through the Radio 4 website. If you don’t cringe at the story of him being caught streaking through school, you will when you hear him say that he has always done everything at 100 per cent and “everything I do, I do it for you”, at which point record number seven, the Bryan Adams hit of that title, kicks in. And if you are still not holding your hands up to your face, wait until record number eight – cue Bette Midler and “Wind Beneath My Wings” – and then his choice of luxury (”100 different examples of excellence”).
PS: Apologies to those FT readers who found their edition carried the same story about Barclays twice this morning, but no news about the London Stock Exchange’s results or the possible takeover of Telent (the Marconi rump) by Fortress Investment Group of the US after its failure to sell its pension fund. This was due to technical problems late at night. The good news is, the stories are still available on FT.com if you follow the links above.
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