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Ee Cheong gets 27% pay rise in 2009
Siow Li Sen
Wed, Apr 07, 2010
The Business Times

UNITED Overseas Bank (UOB) chief executive Wee Ee Cheong got a near 27 per cent pay rise for 2009 while his father, bank chairman Wee Cho Yaw, had none.

This contrasted with the bumper pay hikes of top brass at Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation (OCBC), where chief executive David Conner enjoyed a 75 per cent increase to $6.8 million while chairman Cheong Choong Kong received $3.1 million, up 46 per cent.

According to UOB's annual report received yesterday, the younger Mr Wee's 2009 pay rose to a range of $7-7.25 million from 2008's $5.5-5.75 million range. This works out to a mid-range rise of 26.7 per cent.

Chairman Mr Wee took home $2.75-3 million, unchanged from 2008.

The bank reported pay in $250,000 bands.

The Wee family owns 17.4 per cent of UOB, which reported record operating profit (before amortisation/impairment charges) of $3.33 billion for 2009, up 4.1 per cent.

Chairman Mr Wee said that while he was optimistic in his 2010 outlook, this 'needs to be tempered by three other considerations'.

The first is that the US and the Western nations still dominate the global economy and a continued slowdown in their consumption would dampen world trade. The second consideration is 'the sustainabiity of China's blistering pace of growth'. Thirdly, 'will 2010 also usher in inflationary pressures and protectionist policies?'

UOB said yesterday that it has lifted the wage freeze which it imposed last year to avert retrenchments.

'The total remuneration package of UOB staff is competitively pegged to market,' said a bank spokeswoman when asked about pay hikes and bonuses.

UOB also said that its independent directors - Wong Meng Meng, Philip Yeo, Lim Pin, Ngiam Tong Dow and Cham Tao Soon - will be standing for re-election at its upcoming shareholders meeting on April 30.

Under proposed rules to strengthen corporate governance of financial institutions here, the five directors will not be considered independent. The reforms said a director would be deemed non- independent after serving nine straight years on the board, similar to the approach adopted in the UK and Hong Kong.

The five UOB independent directors joined its board at various times in 2000 and 2001.

In the annual report, the younger Mr Wee said the bank is developing a regional talent pool, made up of individuals who can operate seamlessly across borders.

It has tied up with universities to conduct annual courses such as the Impactful Managers Programme and the Inspirational Leaders Programme.

The bank has also run a management associate (MA) programme since 2004 for fresh graduate hires to fast-track their fundamental understanding of banking, and equip them with a knowledge of the practical aspects of its business.

UOB's 2010 UOB MA programme is a 16-month stint to grow and nurture organically potential leaders. The programme, which comprises core training and job rotations, is structured to provide the MA with opportunities for accelerated learning and skills acquisition.

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