HSBC promotes out UK head Antonio Simoes to Europe chief exec

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Banking giant HSBC has named António Simões as its new European chief executive – making him one of the world’s most powerful openly gay businessmen.

Mr Simões, who has claimed that his sexuality is an “advantage” in business, was until now the chief executive of the bank in the UK.

However, HSBC announced today that he would be promoted to head of European operations, as well as joining the group executive board – and will have the title chief executive of HSBC Bank.

The move cements him as one of the top openly gay executives in the business world – next to Apple CEO Tim Cook and Burberry’s chief Christopher Bailey. The CEO of Yahoo Europe, Dawn Airey, is one of the most powerful out women.

The promotion fuels speculation that Mr Simões is being lined up to replace the group’s global chief executive, Stuart Gulliver.

Speaking earlier this year, Mr Simões said: “Being gay is a plus for me. It made ​​me a more authentic person, with better empathy, better emotional intelligence.

“If I wasn’t gay, I probably would not be CEO of the bank.

“I recently said at a conference that it is much stranger — and statistically more improbable — that a 39-year-old Portuguese is CEO of HSBC UK than the fact that the CEO of the bank is gay.

“It’s never going to happen again in the history of HSBC that a 39-year-old short, bald, Portuguese becomes CEO of the bank but I hope — in fact, I am sure — that we will have a lot more gay CEOs for generations to come.”