HSBC <0005.HK>, Europe's biggest bank, said it was in talks over a possible sale of its Mauritius retail banking and wealth management division, as it sells non-core assets to boost investor returns.

The British bank said it remained committed to the Mauritius market, where it would still invest in its commercial banking division.

HSBC has embarked upon a widespread asset-selling programme over the last year, as part of Chief Executive Stuart Gulliver's plans to cut annual costs by $3.5 billion, focus more on fast-growing Asian markets and boost its overall profitability.

According to HSBC's website, its Mauritius division has a network of 11 branches and offices.

A sale of its Mauritius retail banking and wealth management units would come nearly a month after HSBC sold its general insurance businesses to French insurer AXA and Australia's QBE Insurance Group for $914 million in cash.

HSBC also sold its majority stake in its Middle Eastern private equity arm last week and disposed of its banking operations in Costa Rica, El Savador and Honduras for around $800 million in January.

(Reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta; Editing by Erica Billingham)