HSBC hits back over break up demands as it faces grilling from investors


HSBC hits back over break up demands as it faces grilling from investors: ‘The best structure is our existing structure’

HSBC faced a grilling from investors at a chaotic shareholder meeting in Hong Kong.

The bank’s chairman Mark Tucker hit back at growing calls for it to split its eastern and western operations, insisting ‘the best structure is our existing structure’.

The meeting, attended by around 1,000 retail investors, began in disarray as several were denied access to the Kowloon Bay International Trade and Exhibition Centre due to Covid restrictions.

HSBC faced a grilling from investors at a chaotic shareholder meeting in Hong Kong

Many who did get in were keen to back a proposal launched earlier this year by Chinese insurer Ping An, which wants to hive off HSBC’s western operations and keep it as an Asia-focused bank.

Some held placards, which read: ‘Spin off Asia business, relocate back to Hong Kong, appoint shareholder Ping An to the board.’

HSBC’s large retail investor base in Hong Kong was angered when the Bank of England banned lenders from paying out dividends during the pandemic.

They have now latched on to the break-up proposals suggested by Ping An, which claims the bank’s western operations are dragging down its value.

On Monday, as it unveiled its half-year results, HSBC brushed off these claims. 

It said its shake-up plan was on course, and that dividends would soon be back to their pre-pandemic level.

Ken Lui, a shareholder and founder of the Hong Kong Investor and Entrepreneur Institute, is trying to gather a group of investors to push for a break-up – and has even stuck billboards to lorries which read: ‘Spin off HSBC Asia now.’

Tucker hit back at investors’ demands, warning that a split of HSBC would damage Hong Kong’s status as a global financial hub.

‘I think it would negatively impact the ability of Hong Kong to remain a vibrant dynamic international financial centre.’

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