“Co-chief executive” is often a misleading title. Rarely is that so obvious as with HSBC’s, new Asia Pacific leadership duo, unveiled on Monday. The region’s former investment banking boss David Liao and India head Surendra Rosha will both join the group’s executive committee and report to CEO Noel Quinn. That’s where the similarities end.
Liao, previously China CEO, will no doubt focus on the bank’s businesses on the mainland and in Hong Kong, which together generated $10.8 billion in pre-tax profit last year. That was 84% of the total $12.8 billion haul for Asia, leaving Rosha with relatively slim pickings. Admittedly, the Indian and Indonesian businesses are expanding fast, having reported compound annual growth in pre-tax profit of 11% and 5%, respectively, between 2018 and 2020. But that’s from a relatively small base. Liao’s fiefdom will continue to be the real profit engine for the region – and therefore for the whole group.