British bank HSBC Holdings Plc (HBC, HSBA.L) is likely to cut about 1,000 jobs in the U.K. in processing and operations and may close some administration sites, Bloomberg reported Wednesday, citing a person familiar with the situation.
London-based HSBC, which employs about 58,000 people in the U.K. and 330,000 worldwide, eliminated about 500 jobs in the U.K. in November and 1,100 positions at its global banking and markets unit in September last year.
While announcing its fiscal 2008 results on March 2, HSBC, Europe's biggest bank by market value, had said that it will close the majority of the HFC and Beneficial-branded US branch network, which will lead to the loss of 6,100 jobs, resulting in a restructuring charge of US$265 million in the first half of 2009, inclusive of closure costs and non-cash charges, and annualized cost savings of approximately US$700 million.
Leigh Goodwin, an analyst at Fox-Pitt Kelton Ltd. in London, reportedly has said, HSBC, like all banks, must be thinking it's going to be a tough year and they are looking to make savings. The bank has always been cost conscious.
In early March, the bank said it is raising about US$17.7 billion, net of expenses, in a 5 for 12 Rights Issue at 254 pence per share, which reportedly is U.K.'s biggest rights offering, aiming to boost its capital and fund expansion in emerging markets.
However, HSBC, unlike rivals Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc (RBS, RBS.L) and Lloyds Banking Group Plc (LYG, LLOY.L), did not need a capital injection from the government and its share offering is fully underwritten.
In its fiscal 2008, the company recorded a sharp fall in its profit to US$6.5 billion, or GBP 3.54 billion, from US$20.46 billion a year ago, hurt mainly by loan impairments and goodwill impairment charges in its Personal Financial Services business. Earnings declined 72% in fiscal 2008 to US$0.47 per share, while earnings before goodwill impairment fell 18% to US$1.36 per share.
Among other financial firms, British bank Standard Chartered Plc (STAN.L) last week said that the first two months of the year 2009 had been strong, and therefore has no plans to slash jobs, and instead will focus on organic growth. Chief Executive Officer Peter Sands, while speaking in Hong Kong, has stated that the bank, whose primary operations are in the Asian region, would also consider acquisitions in Asia and the Middle East, and that he was comfortable with the company's capital levels. Unlike other British banks, Standard Chartered posted higher profits for the full year 2008, despite the challenging economic conditions, helped by higher operating income, especially from its Wholesale Banking division.
As per mid-February media reports, Royal Bank of Scotland, which reported a hefty loss for fiscal 2008, hurt by write-downs of goodwill and other intangible assets, was likely to announce thousands of job losses as part of its cost reduction plans. The bank's cost cutting targets reportedly could lead to the loss of 10,000 to 20,000 jobs out of a total workforce of about 215,000. Royal Bank of Scotland is also seeking to sell all or part of the operations it acquired when it bought ABN Amro Holding NV in 2007 for GBP 10 billion, and also to sell its U.S. commercial banking business while keeping retail banking operations on the U.S. East Coast, the reports said.
Recently, British financial firm Barclays Plc (BCS, BARC.L), responding to media reports regarding the potential disposal of iShares in a bid to bolster its capital base and to avoid turning to the U.K. government for help, confirmed its discussions with a number of potentially interested parties, adding that its Board, however, has not taken any decision regarding the disposal of any business. iShares is a provider of exchange-traded funds, or ETF, which enables investors to buy entire indices in one trade, and account for a quarter of the $1 trillion fund management business of Barclays Global Investors. The bank, which has shed more than 4,500 jobs this year, also said its businesses continue to perform well with a strong start to 2009, as well as confirmed that it is in talks with HM Treasury and FSA regarding its potential participation in the Government's Asset Protection Scheme.
In early March, HSBC said Grupo del Istmo Costa Rica S.A., an indirectly owned subsidiary of HSBC Bank (Panama), is launching a public tender offer to buy minority interests in Corporación HSBC (Costa Rica) Sociedad Anónima.
HBC, which has been trading in a broad range of $22.89 - $88.15 for the past 52 weeks, closed Tuesday's trading at $28.60, down $1.41 or 4.70%, on a volume of 4.7 million shares.
HSBA.L closed Tuesday's trading at 391.25 pence, down 26.50 pence or 6.34%, on a volume of 163 million shares.
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