OCBC chairman fees in the spotlight

OCBC chairman fees in the spotlight

THE S$2 million salary of OCBC's chairman was scrutinised at the bank's annual general meeting on Friday, as one shareholder pressed the board on why its chairman was paid the most among the three banks.

OCBC's current chairman Ooi Sang Kuang took over from Cheong Choong Kong in 2014, and was paid S$2.21 million.

By comparison, Singapore's largest bank DBS paid its chairman Peter Seah S$1.87 million. UOB paid its chairman Hsieh Fu Hua S$890,000, though it also paid its chairman emeritus Wee Cho Yaw S$1.35 million.

The shareholder said he came to a "cynical" conclusion that the other banks are more efficient.

OCBC's head of the remuneration committee Wee Joo Yeow responded that the chairman's pay had not risen over the last three years.

"Our chairman's fee is commensurate with his significant responsibilities as well as the time he spends at the bank," Koh Ching Ching, OCBC's head of group corporate communications, told BT separately.

"OCBC has over the years grown to become a leading financial services group with a significant presence and coverage across its core markets of Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and Greater China."

Mr Ooi took on several questions at the two-hour-long meeting, which gathered about 1,600 shareholders, and offered assurance on issues such as the banks' credit exposure, saying OCBC has managed the books very prudently.

On the US$320 million acquisition by OCBC's Bank of Singapore of Barclays' wealth management business in Singapore and Hong Kong, Mr Ooi noted the Barclays acquisition would provide the bank more inroads into the ultra-high-net-worth individuals segment, in which Bank of Singapore has less exposure.

"It is a (strategic) fit that has very little duplication," he said.

The Barclays deal also allows OCBC to provide commercial banking and trade finance services to existing Barclays clients, chief executive officer Samuel Tsien told shareholders.

Asked about oil-and-gas (O&G) exposure, Mr Tsien said if oil prices stabilise at US$30-40 per barrel, most OCBC customers will be able to ride through this industry downturn.

The meeting closed on a comical note, with a shareholder asking Mr Ooi for a plastic bag for her bento box. "We will take your feedback into consideration," Mr Ooi deadpanned.

All resolutions were passed.


This article was first published on April 23, 2016.
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