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HSBC 'planning £1.5bn banker bonus'
HSBC is reportedly planning big bonuses for investment bank staff
HSBC's bonus plans will be in sharp focus when the banking group reports full year figures on Monday.
It is the last of the big high street banks to confirm staff remuneration for 2009, and has so far remained tight-lipped despite the top bosses at Barclays, Lloyds Banking Group and Royal Bank of Scotland waiving bonus entitlements in recent weeks.
The group is reportedly planning £1.5 billion in bonuses for investment bank staff, although it is understood to be scrapping pay rises for its chief executive Michael Geoghegan and finance director Douglas Flint in a bid to appease concerns.
However, it is not known whether the bank will award annual bonuses to Mr Geoghegan or for chairman Stephen Green.
HSBC has weathered the financial crisis well compared to many of its rivals, avoiding any direct state bail outs. But anger over bonuses has been aimed at the entire sector, with all players having benefited from the taxpayer cash pumped in to prop up the financial system.
Executive directors at the bank decided to forgo bonuses in 2008, while salaries have been frozen for the past three years.
It faces the balance of retaining top talent while also soothing wider public concern, particularly given that performance last year is expected to have been far better than in 2008.
Its results this time a year ago sparked "meltdown Monday" on the London market, as it accompanied news of a 62% profits slide with a £12.5 billion cash-call to investors.
For 2009, analysts are expecting higher underlying pre-tax profits of between 11.9 billion US dollars (£7.8 billion) and 17.2 billion (£11.3 billion), which would see it follow closely behind Barclays and its £11.6 billion haul.
HSBC said in November that nine month figures were ahead, with a "record" performance in its global markets investment banking arm. US impairments also fell in the third quarter for the first time since 2006, which signalled the worst of HSBC's bad debts may be behind it. But the group has suffered badly from a lending binge during the housing market boom on both sides of the Atlantic and the market will want further reassurance that it is on top of impairments.