Barclays chief turned down HSBC role, cited too much time spent abroad

John Varley, who recently announced his his impending retirement from his chief executive role at Barclays, revealed that he had been offered the role of chairman at its main competitor, but declined after learning the position would lead to a large amount of time spent traveling abroad.

HSBC, one of Barclay’s main competitors, offered Varley the job just a week before finding a replacement for Stephen Green, who is leaving the bank to take on his new role as trade minister for the government.

Varley cited wanting to spend an increased amount of time with his family, which is why he initially turned down HSBC’s offer, according to industry insiders.  The headhunter employed by HSBC, MWM Consulting, has left Varley on their shortlist of candidates for the job, despite his desires, with the hopes that he can be convinced to change his mind.

Bob Diamond will be replacing Mr Varley as chief executive.  Mr Diamond is currently employed as head of Barclays Capital, the group’s investment banking division, and also serves as group president.

Rumours have been running rampant throughout London in regards to who could be taking over as chief for HSBC, which at a current market value of £115 billion dwarfs several other UK banks put together, such as Lloyds and Standard Chartered.

In regards to internal candidates that HSBC is considering for the job, HSBC senior banking manager and former Goldman Sachs senior banker John Thornton is currently high on the list; Rolls-Royce chairman and HSBC senior independent director Simon Robertson is also being considered very carefully for the newly vacated position.

There has also been speculation involving the status of HSBC CEO Mike Geoghegan, who is also in contention for the role despite his desires to remain in HSBC’s international offices located in Hong Kong.

Mr Geoghegan left London for Hong Kong early last year, which illustrated HSBC’s desire to capitalise on the growth in the Asia-Pacific market emergence.

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