HSBC shopping for country expertise

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Unfazed by a falling share price and floundering in the league tables, HSBC is preparing to add yet more M&A bankers.

This time it's set its sights on country specialists and generalists - according to the Telegraph. The bank is reportedly on the lookout for generalists in the UK and country specialists in France, Germany, Scandinavia, Spain and the emerging markets.

HSBC declines to comment on its plans, but a headhunter close to the issue tells us the bank's refocusing its M&A business with an emphasis on country coverage.

The move comes after HSBC cut several of its sector-focused teams - including technology, general industrials and telecoms - late last year. In December, it hired Gunnar Palm from Barclays Capital as head of country coverage. And Palm is rumoured to be behind the shift to a country-focused and generalist model.

Uncertainty surrounding HSBC's approach could make finding the extra staff a challenge, however.

One headhunter says the new generalist strategy is likely to discourage senior bankers from joining the bank in the UK - where sector specialisation is all the rage.

On the plus side, another says the generalist emphasis could be good for junior bankers, who can avoid being pigeon-holed early in their careers. And, according to a recruiter, the weak share price could yet act in the bankers' favour: "I wouldn't mind being awarded some of those shares at their current low," he says.