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One of HSBC’s top executives is leaving a full-time position at Europe’s largest credit provider to become a senior adviser to $ 50 billion technology investor General Atlantic.
Samir Assaf, who has run the investment bank for a decade, will retain a role and advise HSBC chairman Mark Tucker and CEO Noel Quinn. He will also continue to be non-executive chairman of HSBC’s subsidiaries in the Middle East.
In addition to an advisory role at General Atlantic, Assaf will join the board of a new climate change fund, BeyondNetZero, established by the US private equity firm. The fund is managed by Lord John Browne, the former CEO of BP, and aims to provide growth to new companies with technology that can help reduce carbon emissions.
HSBC and General Atlantic both confirmed the appointments. General Atlantic describes Assaf’s role as ‘acquiring, developing relationships with entrepreneurs around the world and supporting portfolio companies’.
Assaf, 61, became one of the best-known investment bankers in Europe and Asia during the turbulent post-financial crisis years.
Born in Lebanon and educated mainly in France, he surpassed almost all of his peers in his 21-year career at HSBC and worked for five different CEOs after joining the European head of fixed-income trading in 2000 when HSBC Crédit Commercial de France.
At the end of 2019, Assaf stepped aside as head of the investment bank shortly after a dramatic fluctuation at the borrower, who fired CEO John Flint after only 18 months in the post. Assaf holds a lower profile as chairman of corporate and institutional banking.
In his later years, the business he ran faced criticism due to the bureaucratic and conservative culture, which according to some caused it to lag behind aggressive competitors and lose market share, especially in the M&A business. However, the more cautious approach means that, unlike some competitors, it has had few credit losses.
Assaf was recruited by Gabriel Caillaux, co-president and head of General Atlantic’s business in Emea.
The group has made numerous successful technology bets since it was founded in 1980 by Chuck Feeney. In Europe, it was an early supporter of Adyen, a Dutch payment company now valued at € 74 billion.
However, General Atlantic’s record in technical investments was affected by his association with the collapsed supply chain financing company Greensill Capital. Its implosion necessitated the closure of $ 10 billion in supply chain financing funds at Credit Suisse, which could eventually lead to $ 2.3 billion in losses for investors.
The U.S. private equity group has since moved to ends his relationship with the start of the scandal by repaying a € 300 million loan he took out with Greensill in 2019, in which he also owned a share and a board seat.