HSBC on Tuesday dismissed a report in the Financial Times which said the global banking giant plans to scale back or even exit certain Asian countries to concentrate on core areas.
“We are not exiting any markets in Asia,” Europe’s biggest bank said in a statement following the FT story published on Tuesday.
“Our strategy in the region is to have strong, balanced and diversified geographies and businesses,” it added.
The FT had said that HSBC was examining the potential sale or closure of seven retail businesses in countries such as Bangladesh, New Zealand, Pakistan and the Philippines.
It followed a conversation between the business daily and Peter Wong, chief executive of HSBC in Asia, in which he said the bank had decided to focus on eight markets.
This comprised six core markets producing fast profits growth but excluding Hong Kong — Australia, China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore — and two strategic markets seen as important to future growth — Taiwan and Vietnam.
HSBC noted in its statement: “The six priority and two strategic markets are where we prioritise our investment but that doesn’t mean that we exclude other markets.
“We continue to invest and grow in Asia as evidenced by our strong financial performance in 2011,” it added.
However, as part of HSBC’s ongoing cost-cutting drive to axe 30,000 jobs by 2013, the group earlier this month sold its general-insurance businesses in Hong Kong, Singapore, Argentina and Mexico for around $914 million.
In December, it offloaded its private banking business in Japan to Credit Suisse for $2.7 billion (2.06 billion euros).
Founded in Hong Kong and Shanghai in 1865 but headquartered in London, HSBC recently reported soaring annual net profits as growth in Asia and other emerging markets offset eurozone debt losses and costs linked to its US exit.
Profit after tax jumped 28 percent to $16.8 billion in 2011 compared with the previous year.