March 4 - Shares in Europe's largest bank fall despite annual profit of $20.6 billion. It was short of expectations but pledges to increase its dividend as strong growth in Hong Kong and other core Asian markets boosted its capital. Hayley Platt reports.
A British bank that makes a profit - after losses at Lloyds and RBS last week HSBC's results were at least refreshing. But even Europe's largest bank fell short of expectations, despite profit for last year of $21 billion. 11 million of that will go to the bank's chief executive Stuart Gulliver, who earned a 3 million bonus. A further $32 million of bonuses will be paid to the bank's top five employees. Some of that says Alpesh Patel from Praefinium Partners should have gone to investors instead. SOUNDBITE: Alpesh Patel, founding partner, Praefinium Partners, saying, (English): "It's about time we get back to good old fashioned capitalism which is what's the return for the poor capitalist shareholder and it looks like we capitalists have really lost the battle against the employees who tend to get the lions share of the money that the companies earn and we're left with the dregs of what's left afterwards." But HSBC is one of the highest dividend payers among British blue-chip companies. And it has pledged to increase payouts by 11 percent. That's partly thanks to strong growth in Asia and the sale or closure of 47 businesses over the past two years. It hasn't escaped some of the scandals that have engulfed banks in Britain. It's set aside $2 billion to compensate customers for mis-sold Payment Protection Insurance. And in December it was fined a similar amount by US authorities for laundering drug money and illicit fund transfers to Iran. HSBC's shares lost almost three percent after the results.