StanChart investors rebel over pay plan after profit falls

May 08 2014, 22:12 IST
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SummaryAsia-focused bank Standard Chartered saw more than 40 percent of its shareholders oppose its pay plan on Thursday, hours after the bank posted a drop in profits due to lower investment bank revenues and problems in South Korea.

Asia-focused bank Standard Chartered saw more than 40 percent of its shareholders oppose its pay plan on Thursday, hours after the bank posted a drop in profits due to lower investment bank revenues and problems in South Korea.

The London-based bank said its remuneration policy for directors was approved, but 40.8 percent of votes cast were opposed to the remuneration policy for its directors.

Several investors have criticised the introduction of more fixed pay based on short-term targets as the bank has sought to mitigate a European Union bonus cap. Some advisory groups said shareholders should oppose the vote on directors' pay as they want rewards based on more long-term measures.

Standard Chartered said it was "concerned that a significant minority of shareholders" voted against its new pay plan.

"We acknowledge their views, will reflect on them, and continue our dialogue with our shareholders and the governance bodies in order to address them properly," a spokesman said.

In a separate vote at the firm's annual shareholder meeting, investors approved the bank's plan to pay staff bonuses of up to twice their fixed salary this year.

The bank, which earns about four-fifths of its income from Asia, earlier on Thursday said a weak first-quarter conditions had continued in April and so far in May.

StanChart, which does not publish full quarterly results, said its first-quarter operating profit was down 6-9 percent from a year ago and revenue was down by less than 5 percent, broadly in line with analyst expectations.

Revenues in its financial markets division fell 16 percent after a slowdown in trading of interest rate products in particular, which has been seen across investment banks.

StanChart last year reported its first drop in annual profit for a decade and said the first half of 2014 would be difficult due to losses in South Korea and slowing growth in Asia.

The bank may not see a recovery in earnings until mid-2015, later than anticipated by investors, as potential economic headwinds in its two key markets of Hong Kong and Singapore could add to the bank's problems in South Korea and India, according to Chirantan Barua, analyst at Bernstein, who has an "underperform" rating on the stock.

"Pack that in with a challenging and uncertain capital regime that won't be resolved till the end of the year and you have a great deal of uncertainly around the stock," he said, referring to regulations requiring banks to strengthen their defences against potential financial

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