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

HSBC hits back on split-up demands as it faces investor whims: ‘The best structure is our existing structure’

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HSBC faced criticism from investors during a chaotic shareholder meeting in Hong Kong.

The bank’s chairman, Mark Tucker, hit back at growing calls to split its eastern and western operations, stressing that “the best structure is our existing structure.”

The meeting, attended by about 1,000 private investors, started in disarray as several were denied entry to the Kowloon Bay International Trade and Exhibition Center due to Covid restrictions.

HSBC faced investor whim during chaotic shareholder meeting in Hong Kong

HSBC faced investor whim during chaotic shareholder meeting in Hong Kong

Many who did step in were happy to support a proposal launched earlier this year by Chinese insurer Ping An, which wants to divest HSBC’s western business and keep it as an Asian-focused bank.

Some had placards that read: ‘Asia spin-off business, move back to Hong Kong, appoint shareholder Ping An to board of directors.’

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

They have now stuck to Ping An’s split proposals, which allege that the bank’s western operations are devaluing its value.

On Monday, when it revealed its half-year results, HSBC brushed off those claims.

It said its shakeup plan was on track and dividends would soon be back to pre-pandemic levels.

Ken Lui, a shareholder and founder of the Hong Kong Investor and Entrepreneur Institute, is trying to rally a group of investors to broker a rift — and has even pasted billboards on trucks that read, “Spin-off HSBC Asia now.”

Tucker hit back at investor demands, warning that a split from HSBC would damage Hong Kong’s status as a global financial center.

“I think it would negatively impact Hong Kong’s ability to remain a vibrant dynamic international financial center.”

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