Smarting from HSBC Holdings Plc’s move to scrap its dividend during the height of the pandemic, the bank’s largely silent mass of retail shareholders in Hong Kong is warming up to the idea of a breakup.
Splitting up Europe’s biggest bank to separate out its Asian operations is being pushed by its largest investor, Ping An Insurance Group Co, based just across the border in Shenzhen. The call is winning support in Hong Kong’s retail base, which owns about a third of the bank, with some seeing it as a surefire way of preventing the steady stream of payouts from being cut off again.
Their loyalty has been tested as numerous pivots in strategy fail to impress the market, leaving dividends at half of what they were in 2018 and the stock down more than 40%. The former British colony is the beating heart of the bank’s global operations, accounting for about 30% of the group’s 2021 adjusted profits. Yet decisions such as the halting of dividends have been driven by regulators in the UK, chafing its local base.