International banking giant HSBC is to sell off its Turkey operation.
The move comes days after the company was hit with a $53-million dollar fine over tax evasion. HSBC is set to cut up to 25,000 jobs in an effort to achieve $5 billion in savings, the bank said yesterday. In a statement to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, HSBC said that the job cuts were roughly equivalent to 10 percent of the bank's global workforce.
No decision however, was made on moving the bank's headquarters out of the United Kingdom; an announcement about that issue will be made at a later date, the statement said. The bank also said that it will sell off its Brazilian operations, raising about $5 billion overall through the divestments. HSBC described the move as a "significant reshaping" of its business portfolio. The job cuts will include up to 8,000 of HSBC's 48,000 British-based staff, as the bank rebrands its branches in Britain and reduces its global network of retail banks by 12 percent.
Speaking to Daily Sabah, economist Kerem Alkin said that the global crisis, which started in 2008, has raised the question if the international banks should operate in every continent. "After the crisis hit the economies, European banks had to recall their operations in Latin American countries," said Alkin and added that banks prefer to maintain its operations in the countries they are successful in. Alkin underlined the strong structure of the Turkish banking system and said while Turkey has its own highly competitive system, it is crucial to understand customers' needs.
"Russian Sberbank had to learn the personal banking system first, when they took over Turkey's Deniz Bank. If you can't understand what the expectations of the customers are and keep pace with the active competitiveness, you would fail. It is that simple," said Alkin.
Among its objectives, achieving a return on equity of greater than 10 percent by 2017 through annual cost cutting intended to save about $4 billion each year. Last year, return on equity hit 7.3 percent, down from 9.2 percent in 2013. The bank had planned on 10 percent ROI in 2014. HSBC also promised to increase its investments in Asia. It will target insurance and asset management as areas for growth in the region. "We recognize that the world has changed and we need to change with it. That is why we are outlining...strategic actions that will further transform our organization," said HSBC Chief Executive Stuart Gulliver.
"The world is increasingly connected, with Asia expected to show high growth and become the center of global trade over the next decade," chief executive Stuart Gulliver said. "HSBC is in a unique position to benefit from Asia's development, as Asia's leading international bank," the bank said in a report on its planned restructuring. It plans to develop its business in southern China's booming Pearl River Delta, adjoining Hong Kong, and in the ASEAN region. Shanghai will become a "key emerging financial center and focus for HSBC," as it seeks to capitalize on its position as the "leading international bank" for transactions in China's renminbi currency. The bank also aims to "capture opportunities in wealth, trade and investment flows in Singapore and Malaysia," and develop new business in Indonesia.
On June 4, HSBC was fined $53 million by Swiss authorities in a tax evasion case from leaks about the bank's clients in 2008. The bank is still litigating similar charges, along with allegations of money laundering in the U.S. Gilbert said that the bank's new strategy would involve getting smaller, a move away from HSBC's aggressive acquisition efforts in previous years.