Wed, Dec 17, 2008 - Page 12 News List

HSBC to shed 300 jobs in Taiwan as recession hits hard

By Joyce Huang  /  STAFF REPORTER

HSBC said yesterday it would cut 10 percent of its staff in Taiwan, about 300 jobs, through a voluntary redundancy program amid slower loan growth in the global recession. However, the bank is poised to recruit new blood in the next 12 to 18 months, a bank executive said in Taipei yesterday.

Following integration of its acquisition, the Chinese Bank (中華銀行), some 300 employees, — 10 percent of its 3,000-strong workforce — have applied for the bank’s voluntary termination program, chief executive officer Nicholas Winsor told reporters on the sidelines of its Renai branch’s re-opening ceremony.

Last December, HSBC said it agreed to acquire the Chinese Bank, a unit of the bankrupt Rebar Asia Pacific Group (力霸亞太企業集團), in return for a payment of NT$47.49 billion (US$1.5 billion) from the government’s financial restructuring fund. It completed the takeover of the business and operations of the bank in March.

New positions will be filled, “especially those in the frontline,” when HSBC opens another 14 branches within the next year and a half, he said.

According to Bloomberg, parent HSBC Holdings Plc cut 500 jobs in Asia last month. It also fired 1,100 workers in its global banking and markets division in September.

Facing a challenging credit environment, Winsor said he was confident the bank would remain profitable after having posted a pretax profit of NT$5.94 billion in the first 10 months of the year, compared with NT$2.56 billion in the same period a year earlier.

HSBC is still one of the top 10 most profitable banks in Taiwan, he said, and remains the second most profitable foreign bank after Citibank Taiwan.

To offer a wide spectrum of financial services, HSBC also launched its Power Vantage Plus services yesterday, aimed at middle income clientele, said U Chen Hock (余清福), head of the bank’s personal financial services.

The Plus services will offer bank customers with assets of between NT$1 million and NT$3 million a bundled range of products and services, which recognize customer’s needs at different times of their lives, U said.

Within the next year, the NT$1 million threshold for Plus services will be temporarily lowered by half to expand and entice new customers, he said.

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