HSBC reports half yearly profits of $10.2 billion

Monday 05 August 2013 12.36
HSBC says cost cutting programme reaping benefits
HSBC says cost cutting programme reaping benefits

HSBC, Europe's biggest bank by market value, said its first half profit rose 22% as it reaped the benefits of restructuring measures and reduced loan losses in the US.

The bank, which gets more than 60% of its income from Asia, said today that its net income rose to $10.3 billion in the first half of the year from $8.4 billion in the same period of 2012.

In the US, loan impairment charges were down to $1.3 billion, or 29%, compared with the first half of 2012. The decrease reflected improvements in the housing market and lower default levels.

The bank announced 11 disposals or closures of non-strategic businesses since the start of the year - efforts that the bank said would "continue to reshape HSBC." 

At the same time,it said it cut costs by $800m during the period - taking annual savings to $4.1 billion since the start of 2011.

Chief executive Stuart Gulliver said the bank's priority is to implement a global standard of conduct and compliance.

The focus on ethics comes after the group agreed to pay almost $2 billion last year to settle a money-laundering case involving illicit drug money from Mexico. It also handled assets belonging to Iran and to Libya. The bank has struggled to clear its name and restore its reputation.

"Our values are to be dependable, open to different ideas and cultures, and connected to customers, communities, regulators and each other; they form a key part of the annual performance review for everyone who works at HSBC," Gulliver wrote in the bank's results statement.

"By implementing global standards we are reinforcing the expectation that our employees will do the right thing, act with courageous integrity and maintain the most effective financial crime controls everywhere that we operate,'' he added.

One of the more recent consequences of this strategy has been the decision to close the accounts of dozens of foreign missions in London - a move that sent diplomats across the capital scrambling.

Foreign missions traditionally deal in large amounts of cash, something which may have raised uncomfortable questions at a bank that has been buffeted by money laundering scandals. The bank declined to comment on "individual customer relationships."

The bank said that over the past six months, it had added 1,600 people to its regulatory and financial crime compliance units, and all of its employees are receiving mandatory training on compliance issues.

HSBC said today that former US prosecutor Michael Cherkasky, who was hired in the wake of the American fines, has started work evaluating the group's internal controls as they relate to anti-money laundering laws and international sanctions.

But its shares fell in London trade today, as analysts said pre-tax revenue numbers were weaker than expected and amid concerns about China, a key market.