Bloomberg News

HSBC Names Franco Morra CEO of Swiss Private Bank in Geneva

February 13, 2012

(Updates with HSBC statement from second paragraph.)

Feb. 13 (Bloomberg) -- HSBC Holdings Plc’s Swiss private bank said Franco Morra has replaced Alexandre Zeller as chief executive officer of the Geneva-based wealth-management unit.

Morra, who joined HSBC in 2010 from UBS AG where he was CEO for Switzerland and a member of the Zurich-based firm’s executive board, will also oversee private banking in western Europe, the Geneva-based bank said in a statement today. Morra, who has also worked at Boston Consulting Group, will report to Krishna Patel, CEO of global private banking at HSBC.

Zeller has left “to pursue other interests,” HSBC said. Lisa Baitup, a London-based spokeswoman for the bank, declined to comment on the reasons for Zeller’s departure.

HSBC’s Swiss unit is one of 11 financial firms in Switzerland under investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice for allegedly helping Americans to hide money from the Internal Revenue Service, two people with knowledge of the matter said last October. Baitup declined to comment.

Rivals Credit Suisse Group AG and Julius Baer Group Ltd. said last week they expect to pay a financial penalty for U.S. tax matters.

HSBC’s Swiss private bank reported “considerable” outflows from European clients in the first half of 2011 after Hervé Falciani, a former software technician in Geneva, stole details on at least 24,000 accounts. HSBC became aware of the theft in the middle of 2008. The French government has used the data to search for tax dodgers and shared the information with Italian prosecutors.

Client Assets

HSBC first distributed the statement on Morra’s appointment to some Swiss media on Feb. 10 and initially declined to send the statement to Bloomberg News today.

Client assets under management at HSBC’s Swiss bank fell 5 percent to 177 billion Swiss francs ($194 billion) in the six months through June, making it the fourth-biggest wealth manager in Switzerland behind UBS, Credit Suisse and Pictet & Cie.

--Editors: Dylan Griffiths, Keith Campbell.

To contact the reporter on this story: Giles Broom in Geneva at gbroom@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Frank Connelly at fconnelly@bloomberg.net


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