HSBC Announces Overhaul Amid Profit Drop

The company plans to cut 35,000 jobs and shed $100 billion in assets.
Lauren MuskettFebruary 18, 2020

HSBC plans to cut 35,000 jobs and shed $100 billion in assets as it restructures and consolidates parts of its business over the next three years, the company said.

Europe’s largest bank by assets reported net profit of $5.97 billion for 2019, a 53% drop from 2018.

“Our immediate aims are to increase returns, create the capacity to invest in the future, and build a platform for sustainable growth,” interim chief executive officer Noel Quinn said in a statement.

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Quinn said some of the job cuts would come through attrition. The costs of the overhaul are estimated at $7.2 billion.

HSBC also said it is canceling share buybacks it had planned for 2020 and 2021.

S&P Global, in a statement, said the announcements by HSBC contained no major surprises.

“We consider it more of a surprise that HSBC’s board has yet to confirm whether or not its interim CEO, Noel Quinn, who has led the strategic review, will be appointed on a permanent basis,” the ratings agency said.

The bank cited the coronavirus outbreak and ongoing Brexit fallout as putting pressure on its business.

“No trade negotiation is ever straightforward,” HSBC said. “It is essential that the eventual agreement protects and fosters the many benefits that financial services provide to both the U.K. and the EU.”

It said the coronavirus could cause “significant disruption.”

The bank said it was reducing its sales and trading and equity research in Europe and shifting resources to Asia. It also plans to reduce its risk-weighted assets by $100 billion, from the $843 billion reported at the end of 2019.

Roughly 31% of group risk-weighted assets are concentrated in the global banking and markets division. HSBC is aiming to reduce that concentration to 25% by the end of 2022.

“We are taking decisive action today to address those underperforming parts of the business, to redistribute capital to the growth opportunity, to simplify our business,” Quinn said.

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