Simon Cooper of Standard Chartered © Reuters

Standard Chartered has poached a senior executive from its rival HSBC to run its corporate and investment banking operation as the emerging markets bank puts the finishing touches to a complete overhaul of its top team.

Simon Cooper, who was head of HSBC’s commercial banking operation for two years, is the latest and most high-profile hiring by Bill Winters, who took over as StanChart’s chief executive this year.

Mr Cooper, who has built commercial banking into HSBC’s biggest division by profits, had been mentioned as a leading internal candidate to succeed Stuart Gulliver in the top job. He was also in the running to replace Peter Sands as StanChart’s CEO before Mr Winters took the job.

The 48-year-old HSBC veteran, who has worked in the Middle East, South Korea and Singapore over 26 years at the bank, is being replaced by Noel Quinn, the head of commercial banking in Asia.

Describing Mr Cooper as “a world-class banker”, Mr Winters said: “I wasn’t at all sure when I first called Simon that I could convince him. So I’m feeling pretty good about our ability to attract external talent to this bank.”

Mr Cooper’s decision to leave HSBC positions John Flint, its head of retail banking, as the most likely internal candidate to succeed Mr Gulliver. However, his departure may also reflect the increasing chances that the next HSBC chief executive may be an external appointment.

He will arrive at StanChart in April to replace Mark Dowie, who has been in the role on an interim basis and is set to move to a new post after a handover period.

Operating profit at the bank’s corporate and investment banking unit more than halved in the first six months of this year, as it was hit by a big jump in provisions for bad debts in India. But it remained the division that produced the lender’s biggest source of profits.

Mr Cooper said: “For many years I have both competed against, and worked with, Standard Chartered. I have observed its strengths and also seen areas where I think it can improve.”

He added: “My focus will be on building a sustainable, client-focused business that is safer and with higher returns.”

Shares in StanChart rose 7 per cent to £5.50. But the share price is still down more than a third in the past year after the bank suffered a hefty fall in profits and had to raise £3.3bn in a rights issue to avoid failing the Bank of England stress tests.

In the past two years, StanChart has changed most of its senior executives as the bank that specialises in Asia, the Middle East and Africa has been hit by a sharp downturn in its performance.

As well as its former chief executive, Peter Sands, the bank has also parted company with its finance director, its head of Europe, Middle East, Africa and the Americas and its head of Asia.

Sir John Peace is set to be replaced as chairman next year and Mike Rees, deputy chief executive, had most of his responsibilities removed in a reshuffle this year and is expected to retire soon.

Other external hires by Mr Winters since he took over include Mark Smith, who is to join from HSBC in January to become its chief risk officer. This week, the bank announced that Didier von Daeniken would join from Barclays as global head of its private banking and wealth management unit next March.

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