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HSBC Considers Equity Pullback in London, New York, Germany

Harry Wilson and Stefania Spezzati
HSBC Considers Equity Pullback in London, New York, Germany

(Bloomberg) -- HSBC Holdings Plc may partially exit stock trading in some developed Western markets as part of a cost-cutting drive by Noel Quinn, the interim chief executive who wants the top job on a permanent basis.

Equities sales and trading units in France, Germany, U.S. and the U.K. are likely to be scaled back, according to people familiar with the matter, who asked not to be identified as the details are private. HSBC’s Asian equities operation isn’t affected by the review, the people said.

The lender, which makes the bulk of its earnings in the Greater China region, is embarking on the cuts as part of broader plans to reduce its headcount by thousands across different businesses. It also joins European firms including Deutsche Bank AG in pulling back from equities. Chairman Mark Tucker is pushing for HSBC to take more radical action on costs, and installed Quinn in August after ousting John Flint as chief executive officer.

About 45 jobs may be cut in New York, said one of the people. HSBC in London declined to comment. The U.K.’s Sunday Times newspaper reported last weekend that HSBC was reviewing its global equity sales and trading operations.

Shares of the bank rose 1.3% at 11 a.m. in London trading. They’re still down more than 5% for the year.

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HSBC’s global equities unit last year posted revenue of $1.2 billion, down $76 million from 2017. That’s dwarfed by the $5.3 billion of income in its fixed income, currencies and commodities division. The bank does not break out the profitability of the individual businesses.

Equities sits inside HSBC’s global banking and markets business, which has seen cuts across several divisions. GBM houses the lender’s corporate finance and trading operations, employing about 24,000 of the division’s total workforce of 48,500, which includes contractors and other support staff.

Revenue at GBM fell 3% in the first half amid historically low volatility and spread compression in foreign exchange and equities, the bank said in its interim results.

HSBC’s other operations in France are in focus as Quinn shrinks the bank. People familiar with the matter have previously said that the French retail bank will be put up for sale, which could take as many as 8,000 employees off the lender’s payroll.

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To contact the reporters on this story: Harry Wilson in London at hwilson57@bloomberg.net;Stefania Spezzati in London at sspezzati@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Ambereen Choudhury at achoudhury@bloomberg.net, Keith Campbell, Marion Dakers

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