HSBC delivers large rise in profits as it pivots to Asia


HSBC was the biggest faller on the FTSE 100 this morning as the City showed its disappointment with the lender's full-year results even though reported pre-tax profits had more than doubled to $17.2 billion.

The results are the final set for chief executive Stuart Gulliver as he is set to step down this year after 37 years' service, including seven at the bank's helm.

The bank's year-ago profit figure reflected a $3.2 billion impairment of goodwill in the global private banking business in Europe and the impact of its sale of operations in Brazil. In Hong Kong, the bank reported growth of 27 per cent in loans in the same three years.

HSBC's revenue from Asia stood at US$25.9 billion in 2017, a 15 per cent increase over 2014.

Mr Gulliver said: "These good results demonstrate the strength and potential of HSBC".

HSBC Holdings is the latest global bank to take hits from the fallout of Steinhoff International Holdings and Carillion, a person familiar with the matter said.

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His replacement, chief designate John Flint, says: "The fundamentals of HSBC will remain the same as they always have - strong funding and liquidity, strong capital, and a conservative approach to credit".

Since June 2016, HSBC has bought back US$5.5 billion of its own shares, and by reducing the number of shares in circulation this has supported the share price.

The bank is Europe's biggest but Asia accounted for almost nine-tenths of total profits previous year, when HSBC completed a sweeping multiyear corporate revamp to raise profitability.

HSBC said it was planning additional tier 1 capital issuance of between $5 billion and $7 billion during the first half of 2018, and that it would undertake share buybacks "as and when appropriate".

HSBC grew revenues in its investment banking division by a more modest 3 percent, a relatively strong performance given the subdued market environment throughout 2017 that hammered banks' bond trading income in particular.

"We are doing a piece of work around the USA business at the moment, I don't want to prejudge any conclusions", Flint said.