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HSBC sells off insurance business in five countries

In a deal worth $914 million, global banking giant HSBC has sold off its general insurance businesses in five different countries in an effort to get out of operations it no longer considers a core part of the bank.

French insurance company, Axa is paying $494 million in cash for the bank’s businesses in Hong Kong, Singapore, Argentina and Mexico, while Australia’s QBE Insurance Group is paying another $420 million for HSBC’s business there.

The bank said that as a part of the deal, it also signed a ten-year exclusive bancassurance deal with Axa and QBE which also allows them to sell insurance products to customers in mainland China, India, Indonesia and Argentina.

Stuart Gulliver, Chief Executive of HSBC, said the sale was another step in the company’s strategy of selling off assets that are not seen as core to the future of its business.

“It will enable us to focus our capital and resources on the growth of our core businesses, including the building of our broader wealth management capabilities,” said Mr Gulliver.

HSBC’s decision to exit the insurance business could be a precursor to similar deals as lenders around the world consider selling capital-intensive businesses as reserve requirements become stricter.

“We expect rising capitalisation requirements across the banking and insurance sectors to continue to drive portfolio rebalancing, with some banks in particular reflecting on the value of manufacturing and/or distributing non-life insurance going forward,” said Ron Kozlowski, director of Towers Watson’s, a general insurance consulting business in Asia Pacific.

HSBC, Europe’s largest bank, began cutting costs nearly a year ago cutting 11,000 jobs, selling 19 businesses and cutting annual costs by $3.5 billion.

The deals with and QBE, which are subject to regulatory approvals, are expected to be completed in the second half of 2012.

Big deal: HSCB agreed to sell insurance businesses for $914 million

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Published March 09, 2012 at 1:00 am (Updated March 09, 2012 at 7:46 am)

HSBC sells off insurance business in five countries

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