Vincent Cheng Hoi-chuen, the chairman of HSBC Holdings' Asian arm, will move out of the 'taipan' house in the Mid-Levels in February next year to make way for group chief executive and his successor, Michael Geoghegan, says the banking giant. Geoghegan will be relocated to the city from London. However, the search for accommodation for Cheng is still on in Hong Kong and the mainland, according to sources familiar with situation. As Cheng would spend more time in Shanghai or Beijing, the sources said the bank was likely to lease a property for him. 'It is not sure where Mr Cheng will move to,' said a spokesman for the bank. Currently, another large house owned by HSBC on Pollock's Path is vacant. Cheng moved into the taipan house, which is on a 23,000 square foot site and features a tight security surveillance system, at 19 Middle Gap Road in 2005. His predecessor, David Eldon, had also stayed there. The bank's revelation has sparked a guessing game in property market circles about where HSBC plans to accommodate Cheng and senior executives at the principal office of the chief executive who will move to Hong Kong from London. Estate agents are hoping the move will trigger a turnaround in the recent trend among multinationals to scale back demand for executive accommodation in the city - a shift that has contributed to a 30 per cent plunge in rentals for top-end accommodation since the outbreak of the global financial crisis last year. 'We hope the move will bring in more senior executives to the city and create new demand for luxury apartments. It will not help the market that much if the bank just wants one or two deluxe houses,' said Terri Lai, an associate director of the Centaline Property Agency branch on the Peak. HSBC has said that the principal office of the group chief executive will begin working in Hong Kong from February 1. Media reports said Geoghegan was likely to bring 15 senior staff with him to Hong Kong, while there was speculation that the eventual number could be much higher. The bank has emphasised, however, that it is not relocating its entire head office and that Geoghegan will maintain a London office as well. 'It is too early to say how many staff will come from London and where they will stay,' a spokeswoman for the bank said. However, she said the arrangements were likely to include using the bank's own properties as well as leasing. If the bank did go shopping for another house for Cheng in Hong Kong, agents believe it would target houses on the Peak or the Mid-Levels that offer panoramic views of Victoria Harbour, a private garden and a swimming pool. The senior executives who moved from London to Hong Kong could be in the market for flats and penthouses in the Mid-Levels, they said. Lai said only a handful of deluxe houses were currently available for lease. Those on offer included a five-bedroom 6,000 sq ft house on Plantation Road for HK$430,000 a month and a 6,000 sq ft house on Gough Hill Road for HK$450,000 a month. She said leasing transaction volumes returned to their normal levels of about 20 deals last month from a low of just three deals completed in January. Among them was a lease taken out by an international firm on a 9,500 sq ft house with a garden on Middle Gap Road for about HK$300,000. The property was leased to provide accommodation for the head of its Asia-Pacific operations. Rents on the Peak and the Mid-Levels have declined by between 15 and 30 per cent to HK$45 to HK$70 per square foot from their peak levels of between HK$60 and HK$80 per square foot in 2007 before the onset of the global financial crisis.