HSBC faces stiff investor opposition over executive pay

Around 19 per cent of HSBC shareholders have voted against the bank's executive pay report, making it the biggest protest over compensation among the UK's five biggest banks this year.

At other British banks, shareholder dissent on pay was less than 10 per cent with Barclays Plc last month reporting 9.7 per cent of shareholders voting against its executive pay report, as against 8.1 per cent at Lloyds Banking Group Plc, 7.8 per cent at Standard Chartered Plc and less than 1 per cent at Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc.

The London-based bank's pay report was opposed by 13 per cent of HSBC investors.

Stuart GuliverHSBC Group chief executive officer Stuart Gulliver, in an interview following the decision at the bank's annual general meeting in London yesterday, said it did not cause the bank much sense of concern.

''These are simple 50 per cent majorities, so you need to get to 51 per cent. Ttherefore a substantial part of the shareholder base beyond that voted in favor.''

The vote comes in the wake of a February pledge by HSBC and other British banks to pay less in bonuses for 2010 than in the previous year. Chairman Douglas Flint said that though HSBC was alive to the fact that banker pay was a ''sensitive'' issue, the payments were necessitated on concerns over retention of employees.