(Adds details, comments from head of remuneration)
By Steve Slater
LONDON May 14 Banking group HSBC Holdings Plc
has attempted to head off investor criticism over a new
pay plan, capping any share bonus for its Chairman Douglas Flint
this year at 1 million pounds ($1.7 million) and saying it would
be a one off.
Under new pay proposals set out in March, HSBC said it could
have awarded Flint up to 2.25 million pounds worth of shares as
an annual bonus in exceptional circumstances.
The bank had said in 2010, when the former finance director
became chairman, he would be paid his salary but no bonus and
some investors were concerned about the change in structure.
HSBC said it had met with investors ahead of its annual
shareholder meeting on May 23 and had made adjustments to the
Simon Robertson, chairman of the remuneration committee,
said in a statement if any award was made this year to Flint it
would reflect changes to his responsibilities since his original
appointment when salaries were set.
"Any award would be made in recognition of the exceptional
circumstances facing HSBC over the medium term of intense
regulatory change, an increased focus on changing conduct and
behavior and the implementation of enhanced banking standards,"
He said the share bonus would be specific to Flint, and the
bank did not intend to make such payments a feature of the
chairman's pay over the long-term.
Flint was paid 2.4 million pounds last year. Under the
structure announced in March, he could have received 4.7 million
pounds, but the maximum he can now get is 3.4 million.
HSBC, like many other banks, has changed its pay structure
this year to meet new EU rules that cap bonuses at the level of
their fixed pay, or double the amount with shareholder approval.
Rivals Standard Chartered Plc and Barclays Plc
have faced significant opposition to their pay policies
at recent shareholder meetings.
($1 = 0.5960 British Pounds)
(Editing by David Holmes)