Michael Geoghegan, the HSBC chief executive, is facing pressure this weekend to bow to public pressure and waive a bonus of up to £4m which he could be handed on Monday when the bank reports profits of about $11bn (£7.2bn).
Geoghegan, who has just moved to Hong Kong, has been urged by shareholders and government minister Lord Myners to follow the example of bosses at Barclays, Royal Bank of Scotland and Lloyds Banking Group and forgo his bonus. Another option he is thought to be considering is to take the payment in shares rather than cash in an attempt to appease anger over big pay deals.
Geoghegan, to whom the HSBC board had also wanted to hand a pay rise of up to 40%, may be concerned that his decision could end up overshadowing the results on Monday, when the City believes the bank will be able to report a rise in profits of as much as 25%.
The bank's remuneration committee met today to finalise the details that will be contained in the HSBC annual report. It will be published alongside the figures on Monday and will also disclose the bonuses given to HSBC's five highest-paid bankers.
While HSBC will not reveal their identities, it will provide a window on to the pay scales at its investment bank, which is thought to be on track for a record performance. Other banks do not publish their annual reports as early as HSBC, or provide as much detail on pay.
Investors in the UK have made it clear to the HSBC remuneration committee that they do not believe Geoghegan, or the finance director Douglas Flint, should receive rises of as much as 40%.
By Wednesday, the pressure will turn to Standard Chartered, the emerging markets specialist and a close rival of HSBC's, which is also on track to report higher profits. The bank's chief executive, Peter Sands, could receive a bonus of as much as £2m and is also facing calls not to take any payment.