Standard Chartered CEO Bill Winters: Temasek ‘very supportive’

Standard Chartered’s largest shareholder is “very supportive” of the company, chief executive Bill Winters said Wednesday, following a report that it is increasingly unhappy with his restructuring efforts.

Singapore’s state-owned investment arm Temasek has been putting the bank under pressure, requesting more frequent briefings from executives and even mulling a position on the firm’s board, the Financial Times newspaper reported Monday, citing two people with knowledge of the matter.

But Winters on Wednesday pushed back against that report, saying “I’d be surprised if I read anything in the Financial Times which I hadn’t heard from them directly.”

“They have been a very supportive shareholder throughout,” he told CNBC’s Geoff Cutmore at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. “We have an extremely active dialogue with all of our large shareholders, of course including Temasek.”

The FT also reported that Temasek would prefer an external replacement for Winters once he steps down as chief. It highlighted Piyush Gupta, chief executive of Singaporean bank DBS, as a preferred replacement.

Temasek had asked executives at the bank why it had been unable to generate close to the double-digit return on equity seen in Asian rivals, including DBS, according to the FT.