HSBC collides with critics on chief’s pay

DIRECTORS of HSBC, one of the banks that fared best in the financial crisis, are on course for a collision with investors at today’s annual general meeting over executive pay for chief executive Michael Geoghegan.

Shareholders will vote on HSBC’s remuneration report, including a compensation and perks package worth an estimated £800,000, awarded to Geoghegan when he relocated to Hong Kong earlier this year. The award drew fire from the bank’s critics, coming shortly after a planned £0.35m salary increase for Geoghegan was voted down by investors.

HSBC has long contended that its chief, who earns a basic salary of £1.1m and last year donated his £4m bonus to charity, is significantly underpaid compared to his peers.

“What you have to remember is that [Geoghegan] runs one of the top 20 companies globally, yet his salary is outside the top 100 chief executives in the world,” a spokesman said.

The relocation package included an allowance for “family disruption”, as well as contributions towards travel, housing and medical insurance.

HSBC chairman Stephen Green will also try to put investors’ minds at ease today over reports that he would step down within the year and hand over the chair to ex-Goldman Sachs president John Thornton, a non-executive director. Green will use a speech to shareholders at the meeting to confirm that no timetable has yet been set for his departure, which will likely be next year or even in 2012.