HSBC Chairman Mark Tucker has met with shareholders and discussed takeovers of U.S. credit card businesses in his first month in office, the Sunday Times reported.

Investors are said to be wary of the plans given the retrenchment by the world's largest banks in recent years, the newspaper said, citing people it didn't identify. People linked to the city of London speculated that HSBC could look at buying Synchrony Financial, a retail banking firm in Connecticut, according to the report.

A spokesperson for HSBC in London declined to comment. North America is the lender's third-largest region for revenue, accounting for about 14 percent of group sales.

Mark Tucker, chairman of HSBC.
Mark Tucker, chairman of HSBC.

Tucker, 59, became chairman of the world's fifth-largest bank last month, replacing Douglas Flint. He is said to have an "optimistic view" of how the bank can boost profits through expansion, the Times reported.

Acquiring a U.S. business would mark HSBC's first return to dealmaking in the country since its troubled $15.5 billion takeover of the subprime mortgage lender Household International in 2003. In 2016, HSBC said it planned to record a $585 million pretax charge for settling a shareholder lawsuit over allegations that former Household executives misled investors. A unit of HSBC agreed to a $1.6 billion deal to resolve the litigation.

Tucker ran Prudential's Asian arm in the 1990s and later led the insurer AIA Group Ltd in Hong Kong in 2010. He doubled that company's market value through a focus on winning new business.

Last month, HSBC reported a third consecutive quarter of revenue growth, with Asia posting the biggest sales gain among the bank's five regions.

Bloomberg News