HSBC logs surging Q3 profits despite sliding revenues


LONDON: Global banking giant HSBC saw quarterly profit surge on the back of lower fines, beating expectations, but turnover slid amid Asian markets volatility, it said Monday.

Pre-tax profit jumped 32 percent to $6.1 billion (5.5 billion euros) in the third quarter or three months to the end of September, from $4.6 billion in the same period last year, HSBC said in a results statement.

Net profit or earnings after taxation rebounded 52 percent to $5.2 billion.

“Our third quarter performance was resilient against a tough market backdrop,” said chief executive Stuart Gulliver, who unveiled a radical restructuring earlier this year to boost profitability and move on from recent scandals.

Revenues were adversely affected by fierce stock market sell-offs in Asia, and fell four percent to $15.1 billion.

Gulliver noted that “the stock market correction in Asia” had weighed on HSBC’s Principal Retail Banking & Wealth Management division, and on its Global Banking & Markets unit.

HSBC had announced in June it would cut its global workforce by up to 50,000 and sell off its businesses in Brazil and Turkey to cut costs.

“Our cost-reduction measures are beginning to have an impact on our cost base,” Gulliver said, but added there was more to achieve.

The bank is also considering moving its headquarters from Britain but said there was a “considerable amount of work still to do” before a decision is made.

“Whilst the target for completion of the review was initially set as by the end of 2015, this is a self-imposed deadline that can be moved should the Board require further work to be performed,” the report said.

Chairman Douglas Flint, speaking to reporters in a conference call, added that the bank would try to make a decision by the end of the year.

“We take it very seriously and give it the appropriate amount of work,” Flint added.
The Q3 results, meanwhile, beat analysts’ expectations, with some saying cost reductions are now reaping rewards.

“This time the earnings were pretty impressive,” said Jackson Wong, associate director for Simsen Financial Group.

“Their cost control had (previously) not really lived up to the target, but now it looks like
they are finally in control.”

But Wong added it would be a long road before revenue growth resumes.

“When we look at growth, it’s still limited… hopefully if China’s economy picks up steam then it will help emerging markets in Asia.”

HSBC’s London share price was down 1.06 percent at 502.20 pence nearing midday.
The group’s Hong Kong shares meanwhile shed 1.14 percent to close at HK$60.3.

Legal battles
HSBC’s rise in third-quarter pre-tax profits “reflected lower fines” and settlements, the report said.

But it added that adjusted operating expenses were up two percent year-on-year, partly due to investment in regulatory programmes and compliance.

HSBC was fined late last year by US and British regulators for attempting to rig foreign exchange markets.

In February it was forced to apologise for “unacceptable” failings at its Swiss division following allegations the unit helped rich clients hide billions from the taxman.

The bank has faced a storm over claims it helped clients from around the world dodge taxes on accounts containing 180 billion euros ($200 billion) between November 2006 and March 2007, in cases that are being investigated in several countries.

HSBC is also facing a French criminal probe over the affair.

It agreed in June to pay Geneva authorities 40 million Swiss francs ($41 million) to settle a money-laundering investigation at its Swiss private bank.

A former HSBC employee, who leaked documents alleging that the bank helped clients evade millions of dollars in taxes, said last week he would not attend his trial in Switzerland because he would not get a fair hearing.

Herve Falciani, a 43-year-old French-Italian national, is widely viewed as a whistleblower and hailed as a hero in countries where his leaked information is helping to net tax cheats. But the Swiss authorities remain intent on prosecuting him.



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