HSBC gives HK staff extra day off for ‘perseverance’

HONG KONG: HSBC Holdings Plc is giving its Hong Kong employees an extra day off next year in a gesture of encouragement as six months of continuing street protests have roiled the financial hub.

The move was announced in a memo to staff today by Diana Cesar, the bank’s local chief executive.

“Thanks to your perseverance and dedication, HSBC has been able to sustain our operation and stand by our customers in these unprecedented circumstance,” Cesar said in the memo obtained by Bloomberg.

The memo was confirmed by Maggie Cheung, a bank spokeswoman. It was earlier reported on by the Hong Kong Economic Times.

HSBC, which employs about 21,000 of people in the city, makes around 90% of its profit in Asia.

Hong Kong’s trade-dependent economy has been pushed into recession this year as political turmoil closed businesses and kept tourists away at a time when output was already slowing due to weaker global demand.

A separate report by Apple Daily today said that HSBC Hong Kong is planning to freeze salaries for its top executives next year amid pressure from trade tension and the protests.

The lender has completed compensation reviews for next year and submitted the plan to parent HSBC Holdings for approval, Apple Daily reported, citing an unidentified source.

Senior staff, including managers and chief executives will be given a salary freeze, while junior staff of band four to eight will have a “minimal” pay increase rise, Apple Daily said.

Cheung said the bank doesn’t comment on “rumours.”

“As always, our reward decisions are based on employee performance and behaviour, taking into account local market considerations,” she said.

The bank in its third-quarter report credited its operations in Asia with holding up earnings even amid challenges in the region and the turmoil in Hong Kong.

Its adjusted pre-tax profit in Hong Kong rose 1% to US$3 billion, but the lender also flagged a charge of US$90 million to reflect a deteriorating outlook in the city, where small- and medium-sized businesses are suffering the most.