Britain’s HSBC Holdings PLC (LON:HSBA), Europe's largest bank by market capitalization, says it's laying off 14,000 of its employees worldwide -- or 5.5 percent of its total workforce -- as it seeks to reduce expenses.

The London-based financial giant said late Wednesday the cuts would save up to $3 billion by 2016. The layoffs represent 5.5 percent of the bank’s 254,000 employees, which is down from 302,000 in 2011, according to the Financial Times.

The company said last month it would cut 1,149 jobs in Britain, putting the total number of layoffs at the company’s home base since last year at more than 3,300 -- out of its roughly 47,000-strong British workforce.

HSBC is viewed by many industry watchers as needing workforce streamlining badly.

"HSBC in my view is terribly bloated," Christine Houston, managing director of Executive Search Group International in Hong Kong, told CNN. "If you compare them to Citi [and] UBS, a lot of the American banks who did their layoffs closer to 2008, HSBC is just an anomaly. The number of staff is just incredible."

Besides the bloated workforce, analysts say most of the layoffs will likely take place in sluggish Europe and South America, while Asia will be largely spared, but the bank has yet to offer specific details where the layoffs will take place.

Last year's earnings weren't hit by solely by excessive salary costs. In the fourth quarter the company agreed to pay $1.9 billion to U.S. authorities after it was accused of doing business with Iran and enabling Mexican cartels to launder money. HSBC agreed to the pay the settlement without admitting guilt.