HSBC to expand in Asia

HSBC Holdings Plc, which generated 61 percent of its pretax profit from Asia last year, may increase its staff in the Asia-Pacific region by as much as 5 percent by the end of 2013, said Peter Wong, the U.K. bank’s chief executive officer for the region.

Chief Executive Officer Stuart Gulliver has sold or closed 19 units at London-based HSBC since 2010 and is cutting 30,000 jobs to save as much as $3.5 billion by next year and revive profitability. The lender had made $900 million of savings and expects to meet the “upper end” of its cost-reduction goal by 2013, Gulliver said yesterday.

“Reduction of jobs is not the main objective, what we want to do is to have the right structure,” Wong said in an interview with Bloomberg Television today. “What we’re going to probably end up with is more hiring in Asia Pacific.”

After generating 61 percent of its pretax profit from Asia last year, HSBC is sticking with its profitability target even after Barclays Plc said it won’t make its projection in 2013 and Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc reduced its goal.

Net income for HSBC rose to $16.8 billion last year from $13.2 billion in the previous 12 months, meeting the $16.5 billion median estimate of 24 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg. Profit was boosted by a $4.16 billion gain on the value of its own debt.

Shares of HSBC fell 1.5 percent to HK$68.55 as of 9:45 a.m. in Hong Kong trading, compared with the 0.4 percent gain in the city’s benchmark Hang Seng Index.

“As far as Asia is concerned, there will be more war for talent, so we’re going to have to be very careful in terms of how we control the costs,” Wong said in Hong Kong. The cost efficiency ratio of HSBC’s Asia unit increased to 46.1 percent last year from 45.8 percent in 2010, the bank said yesterday.

 Amwal Al Ghad