‘HSBC in good shape to weather financial storm’ - Alan Richards
Shareholders who attended HSBC Bank Malta’s Annual General Meeting held on 1 April 2009 had the opportunity to quiz the Board on the Bank’s performance during the last financial year.
Shareholders were taken through a presentation by Alan Richards, HSBC’s Chief Executive Officer, on the Bank’s business performance in 2008.
Mr Richards explained that 2008 had been a challenging year given both euro conversion, together with the most challenging and complex global financial crisis seen in living memory. Whilst HSBC Bank Malta did not have any direct exposure to sub-prime loans, the economic slowdown, volatile markets, and significant margin compression had impacted performance in the short term.
The Bank’s Chief Financial Officer, David Demarco, provided a detailed analysis of the 2008 financial results, explaining cost and revenue trends and balance sheet performance.
Mr Richards concluded the presentation with an overview of HSBC Bank Malta’s recent share price performance and dividend policy. Mr Richards explained that: “the Bank was in a strong financial position and was in good shape to weather the financial storm. The Bank’s enduring commitment to liquidity, strong capital and a conservative approach to risk management has served the Bank and its shareholders well. Whilst the short-term outlook is challenging, the Bank is open for business and is committed to working closely with all customers and supporting them through these difficult times.”
In reply to questions, HSBC reiterated that the HSBC Group is in a very strong position because of its financial strength and diversified business model, although the Group’s performance would not be immune to the ongoing global crisis. Mr Richards explained that profitability for HSBC in Malta would be impacted in the short term as economic activity slowed, margins were compressed in a low interest rate environment and impairments are likely to rise as the credit cycle turns.
The AGM elected Mr James Dunbar Cousin, a former senior HSBC executive who recently retired after a long and distinguished career with the bank, to the Board of Directors. Mr Peter Paul Testaferrata Moroni Viani and Mr Sonny Portelli were also re-elected as non-Executive Directors. The Directors appointed by the majority Shareholder HSBC Bank p.l.c. were Mr Albert Mizzi as Chairman, Mr Alan Richards (Chief Executive Officer), Mrs Sally Robson (Chief Operating Officer), Mr Tony Mahoney, Dr Philip Farrugia Randon, and Mr Charles J Farrugia. The Chairman thanked outgoing Director, Mr Victor Scicluna, who did not seek re-election, for his excellent contribution over the past years he served as a Director.
The shareholders approved all ordinary resolutions presented during the meeting. The audited accounts for the year ended 31 December 2008 were approved. A final ordinary gross dividend of €0.096 per share was approved and KPMG were re-appointed as auditors.
The shareholders also approved the extraordinary resolutions amending the Memorandum and Articles of Association. These were necessary to reflect changes brought about by the adoption of the euro and to bring the Memorandum and Articles of Association in line with current Listing Rules and other statutory changes.
“As in previous years, we saw a significant shareholder turnout, showing the active interest shareholders take in HSBC’s performance in Malta,” said HSBC Malta’s Chairman Mr Albert Mizzi. “The AGM provides the right forum for shareholders to be updated on the Bank’s performance and have their questions addressed and for the Board to listen to shareholders’ views on the Bank,” concluded Mr Mizzi.