HSBC plans to axe 35,000 jobs – 15 per cent of the workforce - as part of a downsizing operation across Europe and the US.
The restructuring comes as HSBC announced its pre-tax profits in 2019 fell by nearly one third to £10.3bn (€412.4bn, $413.4bn). That was partly due to £5.6bn in write-offs related to its investment and commercial banking operations in Europe.
The bank is seeking to cut costs by £3.5bn over the next two years and shed £77bn of assets.
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The bulk of its revenues come from Asia. Despite civil unrest in Hong Kong and the coronavirus in China affecting its business, the UK-based bank is looking to its US and European investment banking operations to bear the brunt of the cuts.
Interim chief executive Noel Quinn said: “Parts of our business are not delivering acceptable returns. We are therefore outlining a revised plan to increase returns for investors.”
The job losses are expected to come through natural attrition (staff churn is 25,000 a year). Redundancies would be “managed in a sensible and sensitive manner”.
HSBC operates in more than 50 countries across North America, Europe, the Middle East and Asia. The Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation was established in 1865 to facilitate trade between Europe and Asia. Of its 235,000 staff worldwide, 40,000 are based in the UK, 25 per cent of which are at its global head office in London.