HSBC slashes jobs, shifting focus back to Asian roots
HSBC Holdings, Europe's largest bank by market value, will cut up to 25,000 jobs around the world to reduce costs and shift its center of gravity back toward the fast-growing Asian economies where it started operations 150 years ago.
The bank, which is currently based in London, said today it is "undertaking a significant reshaping of its business portfolio" and "redeploying resources to capture expected future growth opportunities." Though it has not yet decided whether to move its headquarters, the bank's statement shows clearly where it thinks its commercial future lies - China and the Asia-Pacific region.
As well as having an already sizeable presence across Asia, HSBC has historic ties to the region. It was founded in Hong Kong in 1865 when the city was a British colony in order to finance growing trade between China and Europe, much of it involving opium. Its original name, later shortened to HSBC, says it all: The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation. "The world is increasingly connected, with Asia expected to show high growth and become the center of global trade over the next decade," said Stuart Gulliver, HSBC's chief executive. "We recognize that the world has changed and we need to change with it." HSBC, which has operations in over 70 countries and around 51 million customers, said it intends to sell its operations in Turkey and Brazil, a move that will see its workforce reduce by around another 25,000. Although planning to dispose of its operation in Brazil, HSBC said it plans to maintain a presence in that country to serve large corporate clients in their international dealings.
Overall, HSBC aims to cut costs by $4.5 billion to $5.0 billion by the end of 2017 and reduce the number of full-time employees by around 10 percent, equivalent to between 22,000 and 25,000.
A large chunk of those lost jobs will be in Britain, where up to 8,000 jobs could go. The bank hopes many of the cuts will come from attrition, by not filling posts that are vacated.
A top union official in Britain said the expected job cuts represented the latest example of a workforce being punished for the misconduct of others, notably those in senior management and investment banking. HSBC has paid billions in fines globally to settle investigations of market rigging and allegations it helped clients evade taxes and launder money.