HSBC has announced that it will be revamping its business operations due to falling profitability. The largest bank by assets in Europe has detailed in an announcement that it will be selling its operations in Brazil and Turkey, essentially confirming significant worries about the sustainability of growth in the politically unstable part of emerging economies.
The bank is aiming to cut costs by $4.5 – 5.0 billion over the next couple of years and reduce its Risk Weighted Assets (RWAs) by USD 290bn, including a reduction of Global Banking & Markets RWAs to less than one-third of the total.
HSBC will still maintain a presence in Brazil, but it will only be servicing large corporate entities, catering to their international needs.
While the politically unstable countries have been identified as unnecessary risk, the bank is planning an expansion of its business in the Pearl River Delta in the Chinese province Guangdong and in the ASEAN region.
The company has also announced a total of about 50,000 job cuts, however half of those will be a result of the selling of the operations in Brazil and Turkey. From the remaining 25,000 job cuts, the most are going to occur across the back office operations and IT departments. In the UK, the company plans to shed about 8,000 jobs.
The company will focus on asset management and insurance in Asia, aiming to cater to the needs of wealthy individuals in the region.
Aside from foreign exchange, the bank will invest in its Payments and Cash Management, Global Trade and Receivables Finance units. HSBC also plans to leverage its dominant position in renminbi internationalization, which could be a worthwhile bet.
The CEO of HSBC, Stuart Gulliver, commented in the announcement, “We recognise that the world has changed and we need to change with it. The world is increasingly connected, with Asia expected to show high growth and become the centre of global trade over the next decade.”
The company also added that it expects to complete its headquarters review by the end of 2015. A couple of months ago, HSBC stated that it was evaluating the option to change the location of its global headquarters due to its business shifting to Asia. It could be months before somewhat anxious U.K. employees of the company know if the bank is undertaking this major step.