HSBC chair is 'asleep on the job' says funds chief

A LEADING fund manager has attacked the chairman of Britain's biggest bank in a final parting shot before retirement.

Michael Taylor, head of equities at Threadneedle Investments, slated HSBC chairman Stephen Green, saying he is "asleep on the job".

Mr Taylor's comments came in a wider interview with the Daily Telegraph on the day he is due to retire from Threadneedle after 25 years in the investment industry.

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The fund manager, who has been at the centre of battles for the London Stock Exchange and BAA, said Mr Green's performance had not been up to scratch when he had visited his offices for an investor meeting.

In response to a question about whether HSBC's recent board changes had helped to improve the share price potential of the bank, Mr Taylor said: "We had Stephen Green in here two weeks ago, and, cor, he was asleep on the job is how I would describe it. He's just not up for it."

Mr Green, HSBC's former chief executive, succeeded Sir John Bond as chairman earlier this year.

A spokesman for HSBC said: "In the three years since Stephen became chief executive, total shareholder return is 154 per cent, with attributable profits up 72 per cent.

"In Stephen we have a world class chairman that we are very proud of."

Mr Taylor, whose company is a key investor in HSBC, is known for his forthright views. His career has seen him controlling up to 20 billion of assets.

Lee Harrison, who succeeds Mr Taylor as Threadneedle's head of UK equities tomorrow, stressed that Taylor's views on HSBC where his own, and were not those of the company.

He said: "We're very happy with the management and strategy of HSBC," adding that Threadneedle currently owns about one per cent of the bank's shares despite taking an 'underweight' stance on the wider banking sector.