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Last Updated: Friday, 7 September 2007, 11:42 GMT 12:42 UK
HSBC targeted by investor group
HSBC credit and debit cards
HSBC issued its first ever profits warning last year
HSBC, the UK's largest bank, has been targeted by a US group of activist investors who have already forced structural changes in other firms.

Knight Vinke Asset Management has asked HSBC's chairman and board to conduct a "fundamental review" of the bank's strategy and structure.

The group owns less than 1% of HSBC, but has a record of persuading other investors to support its campaigns.

US bad debts forced HSBC to issue its first profits warning last year.

It set aside 1.7bn to cover the bad loans and made changes to the management of its US unit.

'Important concerns'

Knight Vinke revealed it had been in contact with HSBC for several months after writing to the group's chairman on 25 May.

It met with the group's finance director on 12 June, before writing to the full board to request the review on 4 September.

It said the letter "also raised a number of important governance-related concerns and asked that the board consider these as part of the review".

In 2004, Knight Vinke persuaded Royal Dutch Shell to abandon its dual British-Dutch corporate structure despite owning only 0.03% of its shares.

In 2005, it led a campaign opposing Dutch publisher VNU's $7bn purchase of IMS Health.

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