Does exposure to subprime risk make HSBC execs sick?

March 6, 2008

images3.jpegExactly a year ago, we footnoted about how HSBC (HBC), which was just starting to feel the heat from the subprime mess, was still plenty generous when it came to handing out perks to its top executives. Judging by the 10-K they filed earlier this week, little has changed in the past year across several of the bank’s units, even though Finance Director Douglas Flint said this week that the turnaround might not happen until 2009. While the banking giant took a nearly $12 billion impairment charge related to loans in the U.S., it still managed to report a 21% increase in profits, mostly on the strength of its business in Asia.

But it’s the list of perks that is truly impressive. HSBC USA CEO Paul Lawrence, who was tappped to lead the bank last February, received $288,681 for a housing allowance. He was closely followed by the $277,232 that Chief Operating Officer David Dew received for his housing. Over at HSBC Finance (HTB), formerly known as Household Finance, which also filed their 10-K this week, two top executives also got hefty housing and furniture allowances: $172,310 for CEO Brendan McDonagh and $146,261 for COO Niall Booker.

Perhaps even more interesting is the amount of money that several executives received for reimbursement of physical exams: over $14,000 for former HSBC USA CEO Sandra Derickson and over $11,000 for General Counsel Janet Burak. Oddly enough, former CFO John McKenna, who one would think was likely to have the most anxiety from the subprime mess, spent well under $1,000 on this perk.

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