HSBC signals mass job cuts as profits plunge


British multinational banking and financial services holding company HSBC logo is seen in Hong Kong.Image copyright
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HSBC has said its profits for 2019 fell by 33%, mainly due to its investment and commercial banking operations in Europe.

The bank said it was targeting $4.5bn (£3.5bn) of cost cuts by 2022 and scaling back $100bn (£70bn) of assets.

Noel Quinn, acting interim chief executive, said restructuring was likely to lead to 35,000 job losses.

HSBC, which makes the bulk of its revenue in Asia, reported annual profit before tax of $13.35bn (£10.3bn).

Wider than expected

The scaling back of the headcount from 235,000 to around 200,000 is deeper than expected. Analysts had expected a figure of around 10,00 job losses.

The bank currently operates in more than 50 countries across North America, Europe, the Middle East and Asia. It employs more than than 40,000 based in the UK.

HSBC said the drop in profits was due to $7.3bn in write-offs related to its global banking and markets and commercial banking business units in Europe.

The strategy overhaul comes as economic growth is slowing in HSBC’s major markets. It is also facing the impact of the coronavirus, Britain’s protracted withdrawal from the European Union and historically low interest rates around the world. It will be the UK-based bank’s third overhaul in a decade as it attempts to lift its profits.

Asia accounts for around half of HSBC’s revenue and 90% of profits.

The division, which includes HSBC’s investment bank, has continued to do less well than its commercial and retail banking businesses.

Mr Quinn told Reuters that the restructuring would mean “that our headcount is likely to go from 235,000 to closer to 200,000 over the next three years”.

The 57-year-old HSBC veteran, was appointed interim chief executive in August last year following the ousting of John Flint. HSBC reiterated that it expects to make a permanent appointment within the next six to 12 months.

Addressing the impact of coronavirus, HSBC said the full effect has not been fully accounted for in today’s earnings, raising the possibility that it could further increase the amount it expects the outbreak to cost the bank.



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