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Less pay for Big Three local banks’ chiefs, Banking News & Top Stories

The chief executives of Singapore’s banking trio drew lower salaries as the coronavirus pandemic took a bite out of bank earnings last year.

Outgoing OCBC Bank chief executive Samuel Tsien took home $8.6 million last year, about 22.5 per cent less than the $11.1 million he was paid in 2019, the bank’s annual report showed yesterday.

Mr Tsien’s 2020 remuneration comprised a cash bonus of $4.38 million, deferred shares worth $2.92 million, and other benefits of $84,699, on top of his base salary of $1.24 million, which was largely flat from the previous year.

The value of remuneration shares was estimated based on OCBC’s closing price of $11.73 per share on March 12 this year.

In the report, Mr Tsien noted that Asia is expected to retain its lead as the fastest growing region this year, led by China as the main engine of growth.

Gross domestic product growth in OCBC’s key markets of Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Hong Kong and the Greater Bay Area will create new opportunities for banking, he said.

He also cautioned that the geopolitical contest between the United States and China could reflect a more “measured tone”, but added that the underlying strategic rivalry is expected to remain intense and cast a dampener on business confidence.

OCBC’s global wholesale banking head Helen Wong, who will succeed Mr Tsien from April 15, noted that trade tensions could in fact deepen collaboration and quicken the pace of development as China focuses more on domestic consumption and its connectivity with Hong Kong, Macau and Asean.

Businesses in the Greater Bay Area could tap domestic consumption, an important catalyst for growth, as the surrounding region becomes more integrated. On its own, the region can function as an integrated supply chain, Ms Wong said in the report.

The 59-year-old was chief executive of HSBC in Greater China before returning to OCBC last year.

UOB’s annual report last Friday showed its chief executive Wee Ee Cheong recorded a total salary of $9.81 million in 2020, down 8.8 per cent from $10.75 million the year before. His base salary remained unchanged at $1.2 million.

Mr Wee received $8.568 million in bonuses, and $37,000 in benefits-in-kind and others. As before, 60 per cent of the variable pay due to Mr Wee will be deferred and vested over three years.

DBS Group’s chief executive Piyush Gupta’s pay fell 24 per cent to $9.18 million last year. His total compensation in 2019 was $12.13 million, which equates to a difference of about $2.94 million in the amount received last year.

This is Mr Gupta’s 11th year with South-east Asia’s largest bank by assets.

In its annual report, the bank said a drop in the bonus paid to him was attributed to the difficult operating environment, general cutbacks adopted across the bank and a reduction in the lender’s profits by 26 per cent.

This was due to a quadrupling of provisions as general allowances were set aside for asset quality risks arising from the pandemic.

Mr Gupta’s pay last year consisted of a $3.41 million cash bonus and shares worth $4.51 million, on top of a salary base of $1.2 million. The base salary was unchanged for the year. It also includes a non-cash component of $62,130.

The share plan amounting to $4.51 million excludes the estimated value of retention shares amounting to $901,460, which serve as a retention tool and to compensate staff for the time value of deferral.

At DBS, ordinary dividends on unvested shares do not accrue to employees.


Read More: Less pay for Big Three local banks’ chiefs, Banking News & Top Stories

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