HSBC backs down on raising chief executive’s salary by more than one-third

HSBC has yielded to shareholder protests and backed away from plans to raise its chief executive’s base salary by more than one-third.

The bank consulted its shareholders about its plans to raise Michael Geoghegan’s salary by about 36% to more than £1.4m this year.

Geoghegan is also entitled to a performance-related bonus this year of up to 400% of his salary, worth about £4.3m.

Shareholders told the bank the rise was at odds with trends to limit big payouts in the face of public and political anger after the financial crisis, the Financial Times has reported.

HSBC’s retreat comes within days of a series of chief executives of UK banks waiving their right to annual bonuses, including John Varley, chief executive of Barclays, Stephen Hester, chief executive of the Royal Bank of Scotland, and Eric Daniels, chief executive of the Lloyds Banking Group.

HSBC defended its pay plans by stating it had not taken taxpayers’ money during the recession and had been profitable.

Those close to HSBC add that the bank froze salaries of executive directors last year.

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