HSBC signals mass job cuts as profits plunge

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HSBC has said it will axe around 35,000 jobs as it announced profits for 2019 fell by 33%.

The bank said it was targeting $4.5bn (£3.5bn) of cost cuts by 2022 as part of a major restructuring.

Noel Quinn, interim chief executive, said HSBC would scale back its headcount from 235,000 to around 200,000 over the next three years.

HSBC, which makes the bulk of its revenue in Asia, reported annual profit before tax of $13.35bn (£10.3bn).

It said the fall in profits was mainly due to its investment and commercial banking operations in Europe.

The 35,000 job losses are deeper than expected, and represent about 15% of the workforce. Analysts had expected a figure of around 10,000 job cuts.

The bank currently operates in more than 50 countries across North America, Europe, the Middle East and Asia. It employs more than 40,000 based in the UK.

HSBC said the drop in profits was due to $7.3bn in write-offs related to its global banking and markets and commercial banking business units in Europe.

The strategy overhaul comes as economic growth is slowing in HSBC’s major markets. Asia now accounts for around half of HSBC’s revenue and 90% of profits.

It is also facing the impact of the coronavirus, Britain’s protracted withdrawal from the European Union and historically low interest rates around the world. It will be the UK-based bank’s third overhaul in a decade as it attempts to lift its profits.

Mr Quinn told Reuters that the restructuring would mean “that our headcount is likely to go from 235,000 to closer to 200,000 over the next three years”.

The 57-year-old HSBC veteran, was appointed interim chief executive in August last year following the ousting of John Flint. HSBC reiterated that it expects to make a permanent appointment within the next six to 12 months.

Addressing the impact of coronavirus, HSBC said the full effect has not been fully accounted for in today’s earnings, raising the possibility that it could further increase the amount it expects the outbreak to cost the bank.

HSBC will also reduce the assets it owns by more than $100bn by the end of 2022 as part of sweeping reforms.

 

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