The former head of Goldman Sachs in Asia is understood to be a frontrunner to succeed Stephen Green as the chairman of HSBC.
According to reports, John Thornton is in the frame for the role, which became available after Green agreed to become the UK’s new trade minister.
Green will take the unpaid role in January, ending his 28 year career at HSBC.
HSBC says it begun looking for a successor “some months ago” and that an appointment would be made before the end of the year.
Thornton is currently a non-executive director on the HSBC board. Other candidates for the role include chief executive Michael Geoghegan and former trade minister Lord Mervyn Davies.