Europe’s biggest bank HSBC defeated a resolution from Hong Kong-based shareholders and backed by major investor Ping An to potentially spin-off its lucrative Asia business, the bank’s chairman Mark Tucker said on Friday.
Tucker told investors at the end of the annual investor meeting held in Birmingham in England that shareholders had backed the board in all resolutions.
The special resolutions submitted by individual investor Ken Lui recommending the bank boost dividends and review its strategy were both defeated, Tucker said.
A HSBC spokesperson said that apart from Ping An, none of the bank’s top 50 shareholders voted against the board and a “strong majority” of retail shareholders also backed the lender.
“The overwhelming majority of shareholders, excluding Ping An, have voted to draw a line under the debate on the structure of the bank,” the spokesperson added.
Turnout in the voting was around 50%, the spokesperson said, meaning the final results will likely still show a sizeable rebellion against the board, as Ping An’s shareholding would translate to a vote share of 18-19%.
HSBC and its biggest investor were engaged in a public battle since last November, when sources close to Ping An began urging the bank to hive off its profitable Asia business to deliver better returns to shareholders.
The spat became more heated in recent weeks ahead of the shareholder meet, with HSBC maintaining the proposal would destroy shareholder value and would be too costly to implement.
The bank had been trying to accelerate its Asian pivot, in part to head off the controversial proposal.
- Reuters, with additional editing by Vishakha Saxena