In a move that took the banking sector by surprise, Hang Seng Bank (0011) vice chairman and chief executive Margaret Leung Ko May-yee said she is retiring in May.
Her retirement was revealed soon after the bank's annual results announcement yesterday.
She will be succeeded by Rose Lee Wai-man, the HSBC (0005) China and Hong Kong adviser who had retired in 2009.
"It isn't a surprise. My term is three years and I will complete it by May. I've worked for 37 years after graduating from university. I want to enjoy life while I'm able to do so," Leung said.
Leung, 59, took up the post in May 2009 and will retire after 34 years of service with the HSBC Group, the main shareholder of Hang Seng. In the announcement, the bank said Leung has not had any disagreements with the board of directors.
A banker admitted being shocked, saying he had assumed that Leung will probably have "her term extended as HSBC seems to have difficulty in finding an appropriate successor."
During Leung's term, five members of the senior management left, including William Leung Wing-cheung, former head of personal banking and executive director. He quit last August after a 17-year stint at the bank.
Reports say the bank had been laying off staff for months, affecting morale.
Lee is the wife of Francis Yuen Tin-fan, the former deputy chairman of PCCW (0008). BONNIE CHEN