HSBC in talks over sale of South American businesses

HSBC is in talks to sell several of its South American businesses as Britain’s largest bank continues to cut back its international operations as part of a turnaround plan.

In a statement to the market on Thursday, HSBC said it was “in discussions” to sell its units in Colombia, Uruguay and Paraguay.

The bank gave no details of how much it expected to get for the businesses or when the sales could be completed and said it would make “a further announcement if or when appropriate”.

The disposals are part of a restructuring plan announced last year by Stuart Gulliver, the lender’s chief executive, as part of a move to cut costs and focus on faster-growing emerging market countries.

HSBC plans to shed 30,000 jobs, or 10pc of its global workforce, by the end of next year. This week the bank confirmed it had already cut 14,000 full-time jobs, saving it about $1.2bn (£744m) a year.

Last month, the lender announced 2,000 layoffs in the UK. The main targets of the cuts are expected to be in-branch investment advisers and back-office administrators.

Mr Gulliver will give more details on what he called the “redesign” of the bank at an investor day next week. In particular, shareholders and City analysts are likely to want to hear more from the bank on which countries and businesses it will be focusing on.

The bank has already disposed of foreign units, including its Russian and Polish businesses, as well as large parts of its US credit card and retail banking operations.

In March, HSBC sold its general insurance businesses in a split deal to French insurer Axa and Australian insurance company QBE Insurance Group for $914m.

The insurance sale saw HSBC offload its Hong Kong, Singaporean, Argentine and Mexican general insurance businesses to the two insurers. The bank also signed a 10-year exclusive deal with the companies to allow them to sell products to its customers.

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