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HSBC earnings could end Ping An pressure

HSBC reported a more than doubling of net income in the first half of 2023 (File photograph)

HSBC’s strong half-year results have effectively silenced the bank’s largest shareholder, which has been pushing for dramatic changes at the global financial institution.

HSBC reported a more than doubling of net income in the first half of 2023, when compared with the same period the year before.

The expectations-beating result was accompanied by a $2 billion share-buyback announcement.

The strong earnings came just a quarter after management defeated a proposal by Ping An, HSBC’s largest shareholder, to spin off and list the bank’s Asian businesses.

Only 20 per cent of the votes cast supported the plan put forth by the Chinese company.

With the strong earnings last week and an optimistic outlook, management is done entertaining such proposals from Ping An.

“That matter is now closed from the point of view of HSBC,” chief executive Noel Quinn told Bloomberg.

Ping An’s efforts had been pushing HSBC towards fundamental changes short of the spinning off of the Asian operations.

The bank published a strategic review this year responding to pressure from the partly state-owned insurer, which owns about 8 per cent of HSBC.

In the review, the bank said it was considering exits from at least 12 jurisdictions. It did not name the markets on the chopping block, other than to say Mexico was not one of them.

HSBC has been beating a retreat from underperforming markets for years as the stock has languished, having peaked in 2001.

It left retail banking in Japan and Korea about a decade ago, and pulled out of most retail banking in the US in 2021. It has also sold its business in Canada and has been seeking to exit France.

HSBC Bermuda has been performing well, with net profit more than doubling in 2022.

The bank moved some custody and fund administration work from the jurisdiction in 2021, according to trade press reports, and ended safe deposit box services in Bermuda in 2022.

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Published August 08, 2023 at 7:59 am (Updated August 08, 2023 at 7:20 am)

HSBC earnings could end Ping An pressure

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