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Standard Chartered seeking successor for CEO Sands, FT says

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Standard Chartered Plc is seeking a successor for Chief Executive Officer Peter Sands amid pressure from some of its largest shareholders, the Financial Times reported, citing unidentified people close to the situation.

[NEW YORK] Standard Chartered Plc is seeking a successor for Chief Executive Officer Peter Sands amid pressure from some of its largest shareholders, the Financial Times reported, citing unidentified people close to the situation.

A plan for new leadership may be announced next month or when the firm reports annual earnings March 4, the newspaper cited the people as saying. A replacement for Sands is likely to be in place by the end of this year, it said.

The bank was forced to cut its earnings forecasts three times in 2014, driving down its stock 29 per cent, after slowing economic growth in Asia and rising costs for bad loans ended a decade of profit growth. Two of its largest investors, Aberdeen Asset Management Plc and state-owned Singapore investment firm Temasek Holdings Pte, have pressed Chairman John Peace to develop a plan for Sands to leave by year's end, the Sunday Telegraph reported, without saying where it got the information.

"Peter and the management team are focused on executing the group's refreshed strategy, delivering growth, cost savings and shareholder returns, and have the full support of the board in achieving this," Jonathan Tracey, a company spokesman based in London, said in a statement on the reports.

Aberdeen, Temasek Hugh Young, a Singapore-based managing director at Aberdeen, declined to comment Monday. "We don't comment on speculation," Jeffrey Fang, a spokesman for Temasek, said in a text message.

Sands, 53, became CEO in November 2006, making him the longest-serving boss of any major British bank. Under his tenure, total assets increased to $690 billion in June from US$266 billion in December 2006, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Earlier this month, he announced the biggest job cuts in his tenure in a bid to reassure investors that management can stem two years of falling earnings and shares.

The stock is down 1.2 per cent this month, compared with a gain of 2.5 per cent in the Bloomberg Europe Banks and Financial Services Index of 45 companies.

The bank also is set to appoint two non-executive directors to its board, the Financial Times said. John Cryan, a former finance chief at UBS Group AG who stepped down last year as head of Europe for Temasek, was among people approached for such a post, the newspaper said.

"The group is clearly aware of its disclosure obligations in respect of executive directors, and we are not making any announcement," Tracey said. "The chairman announced a multiyear refresh of the board in 2011, and we will make any further announcements on this in due course." Standard Chartered's board said last July that it was "united in its support" of Sands as it rejected a report that it was considering replacing him amid investor pressure.

BLOOMBERG