HSBC to hire 15,000 in emerging markets

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Global banking giant HSBC said Tuesday it would hire about 15,000 people in emerging markets by 2014 as it particularly looked to Asia's booming financial sector to power future growth.

"The bank will be hiring three to five thousand people in emerging markets per year," an HSBC Hong Kong spokeswoman told AFP, confirming earlier remarks by the bank's chief executive Stuart Gulliver.

"That makes out to be around 15,000 in the next three years."

The British-based lender had announced Monday that it would axe 30,000 jobs by 2013, about 10 percent of its global workforce, as it looked to slash costs.

It said the initial round of 5,000 job cuts would be in the United States, Britain, France, Latin America and the Middle East.

More than a third of HSBC's currently workforce of 300,000 people are already in Asia, and the lender emphasised in a statement Tuesday that its prospects in the region were expected to continue improving.

Asia contributed 59 percent of the group's pre-tax profits in the first six months of 2011, up 16 percent from the same period last year, while net fee income grew 17 percent in the region year-on-year, the statement said.

"HSBC in Asia is on track to deliver on our strategy to create diversified revenue momentum from both quality asset growth and increased fee income," Peter Wong, chief executive of HSBC Asia-Pacific said in the statement.

"Our expertise in RMB (Chinese currency renminbi) complements our leadership in global trade," he added, referring to the bank's position as a leading issuer of the offshore renminbi bonds.

Beijing has been using Hong Kong -- a semi-autonomous Chinese territory -- as a test bed to internationalise the yuan, with an eye to challenging the US dollar's dominance as a global currency.

Daniel Tabbush, the Bangkok-based head of brokerage CLSA's banks research, said the British lender's continuing focus on Asia highlighted the lacklustre prospects for growth in the West.

"It's very clear the (job cuts) are concentrated in the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) economies," Tabbush told AFP, referring to the group of 34 member countries based mainly in Europe.

"It makes sense they would be hiring in Asia and focusing on commercial banking -- that is where all the growth is."

Tabbush added that there was "probably enough demand for 10 banks" in corporate banking across the region, which meant HSBC could be picky when it came to doing business with borrowers who had the best credit.

Shares in HSBC were 1.75 percent higher in Tuesday afternoon trade in Hong Kong to HK$78.3 ($10.04) as the broader Hang Seng Index was 0.66 percent lower.

HSBC's latest plans come after the banking giant -- which survived the 2008 crisis without state aid, unlike many of its rivals -- announced in a strategic review earlier this year plans to save $2.5-3.5 billion in costs by 2013.

The bank said on Monday that its net profit soared to $8.9 billion (6.2 billion euros) in the first half on lower bad debt and tax charges.

Pre-tax profits rose 3.3 percent to $370 million compared with the first six months of 2010, while total revenues edged ahead to $35.7 billion.

The bank also unveiled plans on Sunday to sell 195 retail branches, primarily in upstate New York, to First Niagara Bank for an estimated $1 billion.

HSBC was founded in Hong Kong and Shanghai in 1865, although it remains headquartered in London.

© 2011 AFP

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