* CEO-elect says no plans to move HQ from London (Changes headline, adds detail, Smart Data set)
By Soo Ai Peng
SHANGHAI, Sept 29 (Reuters) - Top executives at HSBCHoldings Plc said there are no immediate plans to move thebank's headquarters from London, as they met for their regularboard meeting on Wednesday amid a surprise shake-up in thecorporate suite of Europe's largest bank.
"We haven't reached a decision on whether to move theheadquarters or not. If we ever come to that decision, that'sthe point at which we will evaluate," said incoming ChiefExecutive Stuart Gulliver, in reference to speculation sparkedby the bank's decision to move senior management to Hong Kongearlier this year.
The move by outgoing CEO Michael Geoghegan and his team toHong Kong was a smooth transition, reflecting the bank's risingfocus on Asia and fuelling a belief the bank would one dayshift its home base back to Greater China.
But when Chairman Stephen Green made his surpriseannouncement this month that he would leave the company earlierthan expected, his exit set off a scramble among topexecutives.
The normally staid bank seized headlines last week as itappointed a new chairman, chief executive and finance directorafter reports of internal bickering over the new roles.
Geoghegan and board director John Thorton were passed overfor the chairman's role. Geoghegan, who media reports saidthreatened to quit if he did not get the chairman job, hascalled HSBC's new leadership team "awesome".
"I have had 37 great years with the bank in 11 countriesand four continents," Geoghegan told about a dozen reporterswho had camped out since early morning at HSBC's headquartersin the heart of Shanghai's financial district, seeking a chanceto talk with board members before their meeting.
"I have done everything that I wanted to do to put the bankin good shape," he said.
A group of Hong Kong and local reporters had been followingthe HSBC board members around Shanghai for much of the last twodays, looking for comments on the recent management shake-up.
Board members had originally aimed to keep a low profile,but made some remarks before the Wednesday board meeting.
"I am looking forward to moving back to Hong Kong,"Gulliver, 51, said as he arrived at the bank's Chinaheadquarters for the meeting. "My appointment to group CEO doesnot change the mix of businesses within the HSBC Group," hesaid.
Green and other board members declined to make additionalcomments upon leaving the building after the board meetingwound up in the middle of the afternoon.
Reflecting the growing importance of Asia to the broaderbanking world, UBS on Wednesday named the co-head of itsinvestment bank as a co-head of its Asia-Pacific business, andsaid he would move to Hong Kong to assume his new role.
Green, who is to become Britain's trade and investmentminister in January, said the bank was committed to buildingits China business, and lamented the leaking of news about themanagement shake-up, which made global headlines last weekbefore the bank finally made an official announcement.
Green also echoed Gulliver's sentiments that there were noplans to move the headquarters to Hong Kong.
Under the reshuffle, Green will be replaced as chairman byDouglas Flint, currently finance director, in addition toGulliver's ascendance to CEO.
"Leakages are always a shame, but we have a very orderlyprocess," said Green. "We have announced several appointmentsthat are extremely good for the company. I am a shareholder andI will continued to be a shareholder." (Additional reporting by Kelvin Soh in Hong Kong; EditingChris Lewis and Jean Yoon)