HSBC expected to axe up to 5,000 more jobs to save US$1b

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 19 March, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 19 March, 2013, 4:18am

HSBC may announce further job cuts as part of a strategy to reduce costs. The bank will offer an update on the cost-cutting process during an interim management statement on May 7.

The focus of the cost cutting would be on "non-emerging growth markets", suggesting that the redundancies might take place in North America, a source close to the bank said.

Europe's biggest bank by market value was gearing up for thousands more job cuts as part of the next stage of its strategic overhaul, the Financial Times reported.

Stuart Gulliver, the chief executive of HSBC, said the group would seek a further US$1 billion in annual savings this year.

The number of jobs to be terminated is yet to be fixed, but sources close to the bank said the exercise could involve up to 5,000 staff, the FT reported.

The bank would close or sell a further eight to 10 businesses this year and next, in addition to the 49 already divested since 2011. HSBC shares fell 2.26 per cent to close at HK$84.15 yesterday, after dropping as much as 2.9 per cent during the day.

The bank's cost-income ratio, a rate to measure its efficiency, worsened to 62.8 per cent last year, far higher than the target range of 48 to 52 per cent. Excluding a US$1.9 billion fine paid to US regulators, it was still 56 per cent.

Hong Kong and the Asia-Pacific region are the two markets with the highest efficiency, in terms of a low cost-income ratio.

Dominic Chan, an analyst at BNP Paribas, said the bank's costs in Europe were much higher than in Asia and as well as the group on average. He expects much more expenses in Europe to be cut.

"As we stated at the annual results announcement earlier this month, there are no further bank-wide job-reduction programmes in the Asia-Pacific region and Hong Kong," a spokesman at HSBC said. "However, like any company, we seek further efficiencies."

The restructuring plan for the Asia-Pacific region had completed and there was no plan for further lay-offs, HSBC Asia-Pacific chief executive Peter Wong Tung-shun said this month.

HSBC started trimming its back-office workforce in Hong Kong in September 2011. The plan was to axe 3,000 positions to streamline operations and reduce costs. The exercise stopped in the first half of last year, but fewer than 3,000 staff were let go, HSBC said.