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HSBC says chief executive Noel Quinn ‘to retire’

Hong Kong – Banking giant HSBC said Tuesday that chief executive Noel Quinn would retire after overseeing a “successful transformation” of the firm and record profits during his almost five years in charge.

“During his tenure, HSBC has delivered record profits and the strongest returns in over a decade,” it announced in a Hong Kong stock exchange filing.

“He has successfully simplified and focused the bank, most recently with the sale of the Canada and Argentina operations and built a leading position on sustainability.”

The news came as the lender reported that pre-tax profits in the first quarter fell by $200 million to $12.7 billion.

The profit reflected a $4.8 billion gain after HSBC completed the sale of its Canada business, partly offset by a $1.1 billion impairment from the planned sale of its Argentina operations, the bank said.

“We completed the sale of our Canada business and agreed the sale of our Argentina business, both of which allow us to focus on markets with higher value international opportunities,” Quinn said.

The bank also announced an interim dividend of $0.10 per share and a share buy-back of up to $3 billion, he added.

HSBC on Tuesday said it had begun the process of finding a successor but did not specify when Quinn would step down.

Quinn said he intended to “pursue a portfolio career going forward” following an “intense five years”.

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