Hong Kong workers spared as HSBC cuts 25,000 jobs worldwide
'Pivot to Asia' could see resources added in Guangdong as lender mulls head office move
Hong Kong heads will not roll as HSBC Holdings slashes up to 25,000 jobs worldwide and sells off its troubled operations in Turkey and Brazil.
Instead, as the bank slims down on assets in many markets worldwide, the Pearl River Delta would see a boost in investment, the bank said on Tuesday at a high-profile meeting with investors in London.
"We expect no headcount reductions in Hong Kong," chief executive Stuart Gulliver said during a presentation to investors. "We think there is an opportunity for us to potentially create another Hong Kong in Shenzhen and Guangdong."
The headcount reduction did not include the 25,000 employees in Turkey or Brazil, which would take the total number up to 50,000.
The "pivot to Asia", as the bank called it in its presentation to investors, could signal it is a step closer to relocating to Hong Kong.
Earlier this year, HSBC said it would review its domicile in Britain after it paid out more than US$1 billion in a bank levy last year. That led to speculation that the bank would return to the city it was founded in.
"The CEO's comments that Asia will be a hub for growth in future would indicate that it's a very real possibility that the HQ will move to that region," Brenda Kelly, head analyst at London Capital Group, told Reuters.
Gulliver noted that it was still early days in making a decision on whether to relocate the bank's headquarters.
"No decisions have been made and no debates with the board" have taken place, he said.
The announcements on staff cuts, anticipated by investors and analysts for some months, come in the wake of four years of disappointing results from the restructuring efforts pushed through by Gulliver.
As the bank looks to cut 22,000 to 25,000 jobs, Guangdong province should receive a boost in investment.
Peter Wong, the chief executive of Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corp, said during the presentation that he expected head count to quadruple in the Pearl River Delta.
While the bank claims jobs will not be cut in Hong Kong, the Hong Kong Banking Employees Association said in a statement yesterday that 80 mailroom staff had been cut in recent days and the jobs outsourced. The association has planned a protest at the bank's Hong Kong headquarters for today.
Watch: HSBC to shed up to 25,000 jobs and refocus efforts in Asia