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HSBC’s South Asia banking head to take sabbatical

HSBC’s head of global banking for South Asia is taking a sabbatical following a recent management reshuffle.

Singapore-based Stuart Lea, who is also global head of the bank’s real asset finance group is taking a six-month break starting next month.

“We are in discussions with Stuart about a number of senior roles in the Group and look forward to his return next year to lead a significant activity in the company,” said HSBC in a memo seen by eFinancialcareers.  

Those discussions won't include a return to his Asia management role. HSBC has appointed Christina Ma as sole head of global banking for Asia Pacific on a permanent basis. Ma joined from Goldman Sachs in March as head of North Asia, while Lea ran South Asia.

Lea’s other role has gone to James Dynon, who has been appointed Global Head of Real Asset Finance on an interim basis. Dynon is based in Hong Kong and is currently head of infrastructure, export and asset finance for Asia Pacific.

Lea leaves a big gap in terms of expertise.  He has worked in HSBC’s global banking and markets (GBM) division for more than 18 years and was appointed to his current role in September 2021, before being given interim responsibility for global banking in APAC in March 2022, following the retirement of Dai Kitamura.

Meanwhile, he revamped the bank’s real asset finance business as well as establishing Pentagreen Capital, HSBC’s sustainable infrastructure finance venture with Temasek.

Following Ma’s appointment, HSBC created an additional layer of management which meant that Lea reported to Gerry Keefe and McGeough, who were handed the newly-created roles of co-heads of global coverage as part of the reshuffle. Prior to that, Lea reported into Greg Guyett, the chief executive of GBM. “Stuart would have been seen as a demotion,” said a source close to Lea.

HSBC said Lea will use his sabbatical to spend time with his extended family in both the UK and New Zealand as well as pursuing long-standing personal interests. “We support Stuart’s plans believing that sabbaticals are one important way for long-serving colleagues to focus more deeply on interests beyond the workplace.”

Lea is the third top GBM executive to take a sabbatical in the last 18 months.  Georges Elhedery started the trend in January 2022 when he announced he was taking a break from co-running GBM ‘for personal development and growth’. He returned six months later and was promoted to group CFO. Earlier this month Alexi Chan, the bank’s global head of sustainability who sits on the GBM executive committee, announced he was taking a five month break. Chan previously spent a decade in Singapore and Hong Kong running debt capital markets in the region.

HSBC declined to comment.

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AUTHORDavid Rothnie Insider Comment

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