The move is all the more unexpected in that Poirier was promoted three months ago to his current position.
Prior to that, he was CEO of the corporate and investment banking activities only.
He is to be replaced by Jackson Cheung, who will be sent over from the Hong Kong office to Beijing. Since 2007, Cheung has been head of the group supplying structured products to companies in emerging Asia.
An internal memorandum says that "as SG Group country head, Jackson Cheung will be the groupÆs main representative in China as well as CEO of SG China Ltd û SGÆs new banking entity in Chinaa, for which a specific China Local Incorporation Project is now underway.ô
All the bank's China operations are to be folded into SG China Ltd once the Chinese banking regulator gives the green light.
Cheung will report to the SG Group executive committee, liaising most closely with Anne Marion-Bouchacourt, who is responsible for China.
Sources say Poirier, based in Beijing, will probably stay in Asia, and stay in investment banking. Sources speculate he must have received an excellent offer from a rival organisation to turn down the chance of heading the whole of SGÆs China operations. He oversaw a period of spectacular growth by the French bank in China, say sources close to the bank.
Poirier came to the marketÆs attention during the struggle between the French bank and Citi for a stake in Guangdong Development Bank last year. Both banks bid at the head of a consortium, and Citi came out on top.
ôThey lost that struggle, but the profile of SG in Asia was greatly raised as a result of the publicity surrounding the deal. I wouldnÆt be surprised if Marc were snapped up rapidly,ö says one foreign banker on the mainland.
Poirier refused to comment on the news. Prior to arriving in China five years ago, Poirier worked in Japan, Korea and Hong Kong, making him the Asia specialist within SG.
Jackson Cheung has been at SG since 1986, and has worked in syndication, project finance and the fixed income markets before being named head of debt for emerging Asia in 1998.