HSBC, Europe’s largest banks by assets, has a close eye on the UK’s referendum on EU membership in June.
The bank, which recently decided not to move its headquarters out of London, said that it would consider moving staff to continental Europe in the event of a Brexit.
“From our own narrow perspective, a decision to leave could require a restructuring of some of HSBC’s wholesale operations based in the UK,” Chairman Douglas Flint told shareholders at an annual meeting on Friday.
“This would clearly depend upon the terms on which the UK would have access prospectively to European markets should the UK vote to leave. We have a major bank in France so have the option to move some staff currently in London to Paris if required,” Flint said.
HSBC also responded to shareholder concerns over high levels of pay for senior managers at the bank.
It is proposing to reduce the amount of cash given to executive directors in lieu of a pension from 50% to 30% of their base salary, and make long-term incentives subject to a three year forward-looking performance period, in line with other FTSE companies.
The new policy will lower the maximum amount its executive directors could earn by 7 per cent, the bank said.
“We had expected that the remuneration policy you approved back in 2014 would not need to be refreshed until it expired next year,” Flint said. “However, regulatory changes as well as responding to shareholder feedback have caused us to make some revisions to this,” he said.