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The Guardian: HSBC profits hit by customer charge revolt

Jill Treanor
Saturday May 26, 2007

Further evidence that the profits of Britain’s banks are being hit by customers reclaiming bank charges emerged yesterday when HSBC admitted it was feeling the repercussions of a customer revolt.

Following Barclays’ admission on Thursday, HSBC told shareholders at yesterday’s annual meeting: “In Europe, revenue growth is constrained as a result of our credit appetite and competitive forces…” This was taken as a hint about the impact of customers reclaiming charges.

The new management team, led by chairman Stephen Green and chief executive Michael Geoghegan, endured criticism of their performance and their pay as they outlined plans for expansion in Russia and Africa. Mr Green admitted that “anyone with a heart” understood criticism of the discrepancy between executive pay and that outside the boardroom. Sir Mark Moody-Stuart, the former head of oil company Shell who now chairs HSBC’s remuneration committee, said he agreed “with the discomfort people had”.

Asked if he had considered a bid for ABN Amro, the Dutch bank which has accepted a record-breaking bid from Barclays, Mr Geoghegan said: “I put the slide rule over everything, but I am not going to comment on the subject.”
The consortium led by Royal Bank of Scotland, which is considering a counter bid for the Dutch bank, is expected to table an offer on Tuesday.

http://business.guardian.co.uk/story/0,,2088681,00.html

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