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HSBC rests its M&A ambitions on Studs

Thornton, 49, is heading off to China to teach. The speculation on Studzinski, 47, was that he would devote his time to nonprofit activities. After all, his work with the homeless prompted Pope John Paul II to make him a knight of the Order of St. Gregory.

Thornton, 49, is heading off to China to teach. The speculation on Studzinski, 47, was that he would devote his time to nonprofit activities. After all, his work with the homeless prompted Pope John Paul II to make him a knight of the Order of St. Gregory.

The nonprofit part may not be too far off the mark, but it seems that the deal biz still captivates Studs, as he's known in the City. Studzinski, who built Morgan Stanley into one of Europe's dominant M&A houses, will try to repeat that feat at HSBC, whose merger activity now is rather modest. He vows to "establish the bank once and for all as a global player."

The bank's CEO-designate, Stephen Green, is ambitious for HSBC's investment bank to attain the prominence of its retail and commercial banks. But don't look for HSBC to abandon its tightfistedness in pursuit of this goal. "We're not going to go out and hire tens or hundreds of people," Studzinski confides.

Starting in June he'll share oversight of investment banking with 23-year HSBC veteran Stuart Gulliver. Gulliver will look after foreign exchange, fixed-income and derivatives trading, while Studzinski sees to advisory, corporate finance and debt- and equity-origination activities.

"I think there's one more challenge," the unretired investment banker says.