Shareholders await news on next HSBC chairman


HSBC shareholders will hope to hear more details on the bank's succession plan when it holds its annual general meeting (AGM).

Chairman Douglas Flint announced last month that the hunt had began for his successor, who will also take charge of finding a new chief executive to replace Stuart Gulliver, the bank's current group CEO.

Speculation suggests insurance boss Henri de Castries could be lined up to take over following his decision to step down as chairman and chief executive of French insurance giant Axa last month.

The 61-year-old - who joined the HSBC board last year as a non-executive director - is rumoured to be in line for the position after the bank said it would break with tradition by appointing its next chairman from outside its senior management team.

The bank faced criticism on Tuesday ahead of the AGM when a shareholder advisory group described HSBC's executive pay as ''excessive'' and urged investors to vote against.

Pensions and Investment Research Consultants (Pirc) also branded Mr Flint's position as ''untenable'', calling on shareholders to block his re-election at the meeting on Friday.

Pirc said Mr Flint should step down because he was the finance director at a time when HSBC was hit with hefty fines over ''significant issues'' surrounding regulatory breaches.

Last year, 96% of investors backed Mr Flint's re-election.

Mr Flint was handed a total pay package worth £2.49 million for 2015, down on £2.53 in 2014, according to HSBC's annual report.

Mr Gulliver received remuneration - including salary, pension and bonuses - worth £7.34 million for 2015, down from £7.61 million the year before.

Shareholders will have the chance to cast a non-binding vote on the bank's executive pay packages for 2015 at the AGM, alongside a binding vote on the bank's remuneration policy for the next three years.

It comes after HSBC saw annual pre-tax profits rise 1% to 18.9 billion US dollars (£13.2 billion) when it announced its annual results in February, but fell short of analyst expectations of 21.8 billion dollars (£15.2 billion).

The lender came in shy of full-year predictions after positing a fourth-quarter loss of 858 million dollars (£604 million), partly driven by legal costs and the decision to dispose of its business in Brazil.

The focus has sharpened on executive pay at blue-chip companies after shareholders in oil giant BP voted to reject its remuneration report for the last year, which included a pay deal of 19.6 million dollars (£13.8 million) for chief executive Bob Dudley.

But the vote was only advisory because shareholders had no power to veto it.