Fri, May 11, 2012 - Page 10 News List

HSBC seeking to sell South American businesses


HSBC is in talks to sell assets in several South American countries, the banking giant said yesterday, as part of its plans to streamline global operations to reduce costs.

Europe’s biggest bank said in a statement to the Hong Kong stock exchange, where it is listed, that it “is in discussions regarding the possible sale of its operations in Colombia, Peru, Uruguay and Paraguay.”

“HSBC will make a further announcement if or when appropriate,” the brief statement said, without elaborating on the talks.

HSBC chief executive officer Stuart Gulliver last year announced plans to focus on high-growth emerging markets and save up to US$3.5 billion through asset sales and a war on costs — including axing 30,000 jobs globally by next year.

HSBC has already disposed of its US credit card and retail services business, as well as the 195-branch network primarily in upstate New York.

In March, it sold its general insurance businesses in Hong Kong, Singapore, Argentina and Mexico for about US$914 million.

It has also sold its Canadian retail brokerage and exited retail banking in Russia, Chile and Poland.

HSBC announced on Tuesday that its underlying pre-tax profits rose 25 percent to US$6.8 billion in the first quarter, helped by emerging markets growth and higher income at its investment banking division.

“We have had a good start to the year,” Gulliver has said.

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