The former boss of Centrica, Sam Laidlaw, is to take the key role in setting pay deals at HSBC after a reorganisation of non-executive director roles at Britain’s biggest bank.
Laidlaw will take over chairing the bank’s remuneration committee from the former Goldman Sachs banker Sir Simon Robertson. Laidlaw will also chair the nominations committee at the bank, which has been embroiled in a tax avoidance scandal in its Swiss arm. He has faced criticism of his own pay while at the helm of the owner of British Gas.
Robertson had originally intended to step down at this year’s annual general meeting of shareholders on 25 April but will now stay on a year. Along with Rona Fairhead, the former Pearson director who now chairs the BBC Trust, he has been on the board for more than nine years, after which shareholders no longer automatically deem non-executive directors to be independent.
“The board has determined that Rona Fairhead and Sir Simon Robertson continue to be independent in character and judgment, notwithstanding their length of service, taking into account the constructive challenge of management and the strong contribution they make to board discussions,” HSBC said in documents inviting shareholders to the annual meeting, which is taking place a month earlier than usual and at a new venue.
“The board will consider Rona Fairhead and Sir Simon Robertson’s independence annually,” the bank said.
Fairhead has faced criticism for the £513,000 a year she receives from HSBC and was told by Labour MP Margaret Hodge, who chairs the public accounts committee, to resign from her role at the BBC Trust, for which she receives £110,000 a year. Fairhead rejected any suggestion that she should resign. “I can assure you we had no evidence of tax evasion,” she said when she appeared before the committee of MPs in March.
Rachel Lomax, a former deputy governor of the Bank of England, will become the senior independent director – a key channel of communication with shareholders.
This article was written by Jill Treanor, for theguardian.com on Friday 20th March 2015 19.20 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010