HSBC faces yet more trouble at its upcoming AGM as shareholder advisory firm Pirc urges shareholders to vote against the re-election of chair Noel Quinn, according to a report in the Mail on Sunday.
Justifying the recommendation, the investment advisory firm highlighted the bank’s alleged links to Hong Kong human rights abuses.
Pirc said: “While the full impact of these issues is yet to be ascertained, these practices are considered to be examples of a corporate culture not aligned with the interests of all stakeholders.”
The recommendation follows a report published by the Hong Kong All-Parliamentary Group in February. The report concluded HSBC had been “complicit in suppressing the human rights of Hongkongers, by proactively supporting the National Security Law”.
MPs also alleged that HSBC blocked residents from accessing their pension funds which may have forced people who had left Hong Kong to return to the island.
Pirc has also urged shareholders to reject the bank’s pay report, arguing that Quinn’s £5.6m pay packet last year was excessive. Additionally, they recommended shareholders vote against the re-election of Dame Carolyn Fairbairn, chair of the pay committee.
Pirc’s report adds another challenge to what is already shaping up to be a fiery AGM after HSBC’s largest shareholder, Ping An, confirmed it would vote to break up the bank.
Ping An has long argued that HSBC’s operations in Europe and America hold back the bank’s Asian business, which generates the bulk of its profit.
The bank and its largest shareholder were involved in a public spat last week with Ping An accusing HSBC of exaggerating the costs of a break-up.
HSBC, however, said it had “considered in detail both the potential advantages and disadvantages” of such a move, and had discussed the matter “extensively” with Ping An.
HSBC’s AGM will be held on 5 May. HSBC was contacted for comment.