Standard Chartered continues to back under fire chief and chairman

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Asia-focused bank Standard Chartered rejected reports it had stepped up succession plans for its chairman and chief executive, who are under growing pressure from shareholders after a troubled two years.

Standard Chartered said its board was united behind both chief executive Peter Sands and chairman John Peace in restoring the bank to profitable growth.

“No succession planning is taking place as a result of recent investor pressure,” the bank said.

“The board wants to be absolutely clear that it is united in its support of both Peter Sands and Sir John Peace, and the management team, in delivering the refreshed strategy, restoring the bank to profitable growth and delivering returns for our shareholders.”

The Financial Times said Peace is considering a succession plan that could see Sands replaced in the next year, citing three people familiar with the matter.

Shareholders and bank industry sources have previously said there is growing pressure on management. One shareholder said he wanted Sands to go. Others said the CEO had time to show a turnaround is on track this year, and there was more unhappiness with Peace.

“The high watermark was the half year results two years ago. Since then there’s been an endless stream of things going wrong,” said Chris Wheeler, analyst at Mediobanca, saying Sands could face a tough 12 months as there was no obvious catalyst for improvement.

Standard Chartered last month warned that profits this year would drop for the second year in a row.