SINGAPORE - HSBC and Ping An executives plan to meet in mid-May to discuss the Chinese insurer's proposal that the bank should explore its options, including spinning off its Asian business, a source familiar with the matter said on Wednesday.

Ping An, London-headquartered HSBC's biggest shareholder, called last week on the bank to look at ways to boost returns.

The source declined to be identified due to the sensitivity of the situation.

Ping An did not immediately respond to Reuters requests for comment. HSBC declined to comment.

HSBC has not commented on Ping An's proposal but defended its structure last week, saying in a statement that it believed it had the right strategy and was focused on delivery.

HSBC shareholders have grappled with the idea of a break-up several times in recent years, as disappointing earnings from UK, European and U.S. businesses weighed on its share price and management's promises of double-digit shareholder returns.

Some HSBC investors gave the break-up proposal a lukewarm response on Tuesday, however, voicing concerns a split would prove complex with no guarantee of boosting returns.

(Reporting by Anshuman Daga; Additional reporting by Selena Li; Editing by Sumeet Chatterjee, Carmel Crimmins and David Clarke)