DBS cut exec pay in 2016 amid surging NPLs, control lapses

DBS Group Holdings cut senior executive pay by 13 per cent last year to hold managers accountable for weaknesses in three areas including surging non-performing loans (NPLs), chief executive officer Piyush Gupta said.

Besides bad loans, the management of Singapore's largest bank penalised executives for a weaker performance in Greater China and "control lapses" on the regulatory front, Mr Gupta told shareholders yesterday at the lender's annual meeting.

Remuneration for the bank's senior management, including Mr Gupta, fell to $58.2 million last year, DBS' annual report shows.

"Even though our overall performance was very good, we thought we should rate ourselves down," Mr Gupta said. "I think it's fair, because we should hold ourselves accountable to you."

A 93 per cent surge in DBS' bad-debt allowances last year reduced annual profit by 2 per cent as the firm grappled with turmoil in Singapore's energy-services sector, which saw clients, including Swiber Holdings, default on debt obligations.

DBS also reported slumping profit in Hong Kong and a loss for the rest of Greater China, and was among banks penalised by regulators for lapses in anti-money laundering controls.

Mr Gupta's total pay fell 23 per cent to $8.44 million, a bigger cut than that of his counterparts at Singapore's two other large banks.

Despite the weaker environment for earnings, DBS' share price rose 3.9 per cent last year, compared with a 19 per cent slump in 2015.

BLOOMBERG

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 28, 2017, with the headline 'DBS cut exec pay in 2016 amid surging NPLs, control lapses'. Print Edition | Subscribe