Shares in HSBC Holdings nudged higher early on Friday after U.S. activist investor Knight Vinke Asset Management made acall for Europe's biggest bank to review its strategy.
Knight Vinke said in a statement late on Thursday it intends to engage in a constructive dialogue with the HSBC board and other investors over the future direction and governance of the group.
It owns less than 1 percent of HSBC and declined to comment further on what it wants.
By 0720 GMT HSBC shares were up 0.3 percent at 889.5 pence, valuing the bank at 105 billion pounds ($213 billion), while the FTSE All-Share index was up 0.2 percent.
Analysts said the call for action may draw limited support as HSBC had already shifted strategy to focus more on emerging markets. It may have gathered more momentum six months ago, they said, adding that the bank's traditional balance sheet strength was also supportive during current credit market turmoil.
HSBC has turned a corner and are moving in the right direction anyway -- so they are a little bit late, really, said one analyst, who asked not to be named.
Management seem to be in the right direction. They seem to be out of the worst of U.S. subprime, so Knight Vinke can propose a number of things but we don't see them having a material effect, he added.
Knight Vinke has in the past targeted large, complex companies, acquiring about a 1 percent stake and then persuading other investors to back its fight, and has successfully prompted restructuring and other action at firms including oil giant Shell.
HSBC shares have underperformed rivals in recent years -- they are barely changed from their level at the start of 2004 -- and criticism has focused on its 2003 purchase of Household, which exposed it to the U.S. subprime mortgage crisis.
Chairman Stephen Green and Chief Executive Michael Geoghegan have repeatedly said this year they will focus investment on Asia and Latin America, which has dampened calls for more radical action.
A spokesman for HSBC said it always engaged with shareholders who raised concerns, but added: Stephen Green and Michael Geoghegan have a clear and well articulated strategy and one that we are implementing and starting to see the benefits from.