Of Special Interest


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16th March 2012

HSBC retail may operate in 9 Asian countries only

Peter Wong, HSBC Asia CEO, named 9 countries in Asia the bank is to invest in its retail business with the implication that other Asian countries the bank operates in will be sold or closed.

He named 7 key markets and two strategic markets within the continent in a recent interview. The 7 strategic markets are Australia, China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore in addition to its Asian HQ in Hong Kong. The strategic markets were Taiwan and Vietnam. Taiwan was described as 'the third leg of the China stool' and Vietnam because of its fast growth.

The implication from this is that Bangladesh, Brunei, Macau, New Zealand, South Korea, Pakistan, the Philippines and Sri Lanka will be sold or closed. Rumours of sales talks for a number of these countries have already circulated including most recently with regard to South Korea.

The comments are in line with the strategic plan announced by Stuart Gulliver last year. Gulliver said that in 39 out of the 61 countries HSBC had retail operations it lacked scale and that the below scale retail operations made a combined loss of $244m in 2010. Though it is perhaps surprising to hear of any bank planning to reduce operations in AsiaPac.

The above comments refer to retail banking operations and it would be probable that HSBC would retain international and corporate banking operations in all of the above countries.