February 26, 2021

DealBook: HSBC to Cut 25,000 More Jobs

HSBC headquarters in Hong Kong.Tyrone Siu/ReutersHSBC headquarters in Hong Kong. The bank plans to continue hiring in Asia and Brazil.

LONDON — HSBC, the biggest European bank, said on Monday that it was cutting 30,000 jobs as part of a wide-ranging cost cutting program to improve profitability.

The job cuts, which would represent about 10 percent of HSBC’s work force, are part of a strategy to reduce expenses by $2.5 billion to $3.5 billion over the next two years. The layoffs include 5,000 positions the bank has already started to eliminate this year by closing or selling some businesses.

“They are obviously tackling their pretty poor cost-to-income ratio with the job cuts,” said Jane Coffey, head of equities at Royal London Asset Management.

HSBC is the latest bank to announce job cuts. Credit Suisse said last week that it planned to eliminate 2,000 positions, or 4 percent of its global work force. Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley are also making cuts.

The layoff announcement came as the HSBC reported earnings on Monday, saying that profit in the first six months of this year rose 36 percent, to $9.2 billion, from $6.7 billion in the period a year earlier. It set aside $5.3 billion for bad loans and other credit risks, 30 percent less than in the first half of last year.

Stuart T. Gulliver, chief of HSBC.Dimas Ardian/Bloomberg NewsStuart T. Gulliver, chief of HSBC.

Stuart T. Gulliver, who took over as HSBC’s chief executive in January, said he was “pleased with these results, which mark a first step in the right direction on what will be a long journey.”

Shares of HSBC rose 4.7 percent in London after the bank released its first-half results, which beat analysts’ expectations.

The job cuts would mainly come from mature markets, including Europe and the United States.

HSBC has closed its retail banking operation in Russia and Poland, shut 66 bank branches in Mexico and sold insurance businesses in Britain, Bermuda and Mexico. It announced on Sunday that it would sell 195 of its branches in upstate New York to the First Niagara Financial Group for about $1 billion.

The bank is in talks with potential buyers for its credit card business in the United States, Mr. Gulliver said. Among the potential buyers is Capital One Financial, some analysts said.

But HSBC plans to continue hiring in Asia and Brazil. The bank’s costs rose to 57.5 percent in relation to revenue in the first half from 50.9 percent in the period a year earlier, partly because competition for talent in Asia pushed up employee costs. Mr. Gulliver said he expected such expense to remain high despite some signs that China’s economy had started to cool.

HSBC’s earnings and share price fared better over the last year than those of its British competitors, including Barclays, because the bank was less dependent on mature markets and generated more than half of its profit from Asia.

Higher profit at its commercial and retail banking operations and its wealth management unit more than compensated for a decline in profit at HSBC’s investment banking unit. Pretax profit rose 3 percent, to $11.5 billion, in the first half from $11.1 billion in the period a year earlier, while earnings at its investment banking unit fell to $4.8 billion from $5.4 billion.

Still, Mr. Gulliver is seeking to reduce costs in light of stricter financial regulation and a difficult economic environment in Britain and the rest of Europe.

Mr. Gulliver said he expected the economic outlook for Asia and other emerging markets to “remain positive.”

“Growth in the U.S. and Europe is likely to remain sluggish as long as the impact of high debt levels and government budget cuts weigh on economic activity,” he said.

This post has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: August 1, 2011

An earlier version of the story imprecisely described the layoffs. HSBC plans to cut 30,000 jobs through 2013. The bank has previously started to eliminate 5,000 of those positions.

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=bc164b800dd0a2448c155575579d5240

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