OCBC CEO Samuel Tsien's pay falls 22.5% to $8.6m in 2020

SINGAPORE (THE BUSINESS TIMES) – Outgoing OCBC chief Samuel Tsien took home a total salary of $8.6 million in 2020, about 22.5 per cent lower than $11.1 million in 2019, the bank’s annual report showed on Monday (April 5).

Mr Tsien’s remuneration for 2020 comprised a cash bonus of $4.38 million, deferred shares worth $2.92 million, other benefits of $84,699, and came on top of his base salary of $1.24 million. The base salary was largely flat from the previous year.

The value of remuneration shares was estimated based on OCBC’s closing price of $11.73 per share on March 12, 2021.

Key global megatrends impacting Asia’s growth were outlined in the annual report, which include rising Asian wealth, increasing China dominance, digital prominence and threats, as well as sustainability.

In the report, Mr Tsien noted that Asia is expected to retain its lead as the fastest growth region in 2021, led by China as the main engine of growth. Gross domestic product growth in OCBC’s key markets of Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Hong Kong and the Greater Bay Area will create new opportunities for banking, he said.

He also cautioned that the geopolitical contest between the US and China could reflect a more “measured tone”, but the underlying strategic rivalry is expected to remain intense and cast a dampener on business confidence.

OCBC global wholesale banking head Helen Wong, who will succeed Mr Tsien from April 15, noted that trade tensions could in fact deepen collaboration and quicken the pace of development as China focuses more on domestic consumption and its connectivity with Hong Kong, Macau and Asean.

Businesses in the Greater Bay Area could tap domestic consumption, an important catalyst for growth, as the surrounding region becomes more integrated in the future. On its own, the region can function as an integrated supply chain, said Ms Wong in the report.

“Given OCBC’s presence in Hong Kong, Macau and the Guangdong region, and the southern part of mainland China where Shanghai is our headquarters – as well as our wide geographical coverage of Asean where Singapore has been our home base for more than 80 years – we continue to see tremendous opportunities,” she said. The 59-year-old was chief executive of HSBC in Greater China before returning to OCBC in 2020.

In UOB’s annual report last Friday, its chief executive Wee Ee Cheong recorded a total salary of $9.81 million in 2020, down 8.8 per cent from $10.75 million in 2019. 

DBS Group CEO Piyush Gupta saw his pay fall 24 per cent to $9.18 million in 2020 from $12.13 million the previous year.

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