Tourists pass an HSBC bank in central London (OLIVIA HARRIS, Reuters / May 8, 2012)

(Reuters) – HSBC plc is in talks over possible sale of its operations in Colombia, Peru, Uruguay and Paraguay, as the Europe’s biggest bank continues to retreat from non-core markets.

HSBC has been exiting sub-scale markets and businesses in order to cut costs and streamline its mammoth operations under the new CEO Stuart Gulliver.

The London-based bank operates in 85 countries and Gulliver is trying to sharpen its focus on fast-growing Asian markets. HBSC did not specify the size of its Latin American operations in a statement issued to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.

The are some 70 offices in the four Latam countries out of nearly 3,600 offices in the Americas, HSBC’s website showed.

Underlying profit before tax from Latin American operations grew 21 percent last year to $2.23 billion, according to HSBC’s balance sheet.

Since launching the restructure last year, Gulliver has announced about 25 deals, which will cut $50 billion in risk-weighted assets from balance sheet. It has shed 14,000 jobs as part of the revamp.