Feb 23, 2021

HSBC offers lesson in corporate realpolitik

So the news that HSBC is to relocate some of its senior leaders from London to Hong Kong should not come as a surprise. Retail shareholders in Hong Kong, who own about a third of the bank, threatened to sue for lost earnings after HSBC last year cancelled its dividend for the first time in 74 years at the height of the pandemic under pressure from the Bank of England. At the same time, HSBC has come under fire from British MPs and US politicians over its top Asia executive endorsing a controversial national security law that Beijing imposed on Hong Kong and for closing the accounts of pro-democracy activists. HSBC is in talks to close down its US retail banking presence. Some western institutions may also find it more palatable owning a stake in a business that is controlled and regulated from the UK. HSBC's Asia pivot is a lesson in corporate realpolitik.

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