Hang Seng Bank vice-chairman and chief executive Alexander Au Siu-kee resigned yesterday to join the rival Standard Chartered Bank Group. There was speculation that the surprise move was influenced by Mr Au's failure to secure Sir Quo-wei Lee's job when he retired as Hang Seng's non-executive chairman. David Eldon, former chief executive of Hongkong Bank, replaced Sir Quo-wei late last year. Mr Au, 51, who joins Standard Chartered as a group executive director, will be based in London to control several aspects of its operations. He joined Hang Seng 29 years ago and has been vice-chairman and chief executive since June 1995. His departure appeared to catch HSBC Holdings, Hang Seng's parent company, off guard. Last night HSBC executives were holding talks on a replacement, but no clear candidates had emerged. Mr Au denied Mr Eldon's appointment was behind his departure, saying he wanted international banking experience. 'It is not that easy to get the opportunity to work for an international banking group like Standard Chartered,' he said. 'HSBC is an international group, but I worked for Hang Seng, which is a local bank.'