Bloomberg News

HSBC’s Gulliver ‘Uncomfortable’ With Bank of England Powers

November 01, 2011

(Updates with CEO comment in eighth paragraph.)

Nov. 1 (Bloomberg) -- HSBC Holdings Plc Chief Executive Officer Stuart Gulliver told a Parliamentary committee hearing he is “uncomfortable” with the concentration of regulatory powers with the Bank of England.

“If you compare this to a corporate structure you have the equivalent of a CEO, who for political reasons is hired for five years and can’t be fired and who has no real board who can check him or her,” Gulliver told a committee of both Houses of Parliament in Westminster today.

“If this was a listed company on a stock exchange, would we be comfortable with that, and I guess the honest answer is we would be a bit uncomfortable,” he said. The Monetary Policy Committee has too many executives, Gulliver said.

The British government is planning the biggest shakeup of regulation since 1997, scrapping the current banking regulator and handing the powers to a new authority within the Bank of England. The plan will also create a Financial Policy Committee chaired by Governor Mervyn King, entrenching his responsibility for financial stability as well as monetary policy.

Former Bank of England policy makers Willem Buiter and Kate Barker said ownership of financial stability should reside with the Treasury rather than the central bank, criticizing a government overhaul of regulation.

‘Overburdened’

“The Bank of England is greatly overburdened and too powerful in this proposed construction, especially the governor and the two deputy governors,” Buiter said at a parliamentary hearing in London in May. “The obvious solution is to remove prudential supervision from the bank.”

The Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee has too many executives, Gulliver said. The MPC and the Financial Policy Committee could theoretically pursue contraditory policies, he said.

Barclays Plc CEO Robert Diamond told today’s parliamentary hearing that banks will struggle to increase lending at the same time as they bolster capital.

“One of the things that is challenging today is that there is a tendency for regulators to say increase capital, increase capital, increase capital and also call us up and say increase lending, increase lending, increase lending and we can’t do both.”

--Editor: Francis Harris, Jon Menon

To contact the reporters on this story: Gavin Finch in London at gfinch@bloomberg.net Howard Mustoe at hmustoe@bloomberg.net;

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Edward Evans at eevans3@bloomberg.net


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