Banking giant HSBC sees quarterly profit almost double

A branch of HSBC bank in central London.Image source, Reuters

Banking giant HSBC says its quarterly profit has almost doubled, boosted by rising interest rates around the world.

The London-based firm reported profit before tax of $5.2bn (£4.3bn) for the last three months of 2022, up more than 90% from the same time a year earlier.

However, pre-tax profit for the year as a whole fell by $1.4bn to $17.5bn, as it absorbs the cost of selling its French retail banking operations.

HSBC is also in the process of selling its business in Canada.

The bank said it planned to use the money raised from that sale to make payouts to shareholders once the deal is completed.

"2022 was another good year for HSBC," chief executive Noel Quinn said. "We are on track to deliver higher returns in 2023," he added.

In June 2021, the firm agreed to sell its French retail bank, ending its long struggle to offload the business as it focuses on Asia.

HSBC now expects to take a $2.4bn hit to its profits related to that disposal.

In November, HSBC said it had agreed to sell its banking operations in Canada to the Royal Bank of Canada.

The deal, which was valued at 13.5 billion Canadian dollars ($10bn; £8.3bn), is expected to be completed this year.

HSBC has been selling businesses as it faces pressure from its biggest shareholder, the Chinese insurance giant Ping An.

Since last year Ping An has been publicly calling for HSBC to split off its business in Asia to increase profits.

HSBC has also been shedding jobs in recent years to help cut costs.

In November, HSBC said it planned to close 114 more branches in the UK, as customers using them had fallen significantly since the pandemic.

The bank said it would try to find other jobs for the staff affected but warned that around 100 people would be laid off.

This followed announcements of other branch closures in 2021 and 2022.

On Tuesday, Mr Quinn also hinted at more job cuts ahead: "There will be no easing off at all on costs," he said.

"We are now considering up to $300m of additional costs for severance in 2023," he added.

Central banks around the world have raised interests rates in recent months as they try to curb rising prices.

In December, the Bank of England put up UK rates to their highest level for 14 years.

The US Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank have also sharply increased the cost of borrowing.

In response the UK chief executives of HSBC, Lloyds, NatWest and Barclays said the debate incorrectly centred on the interest rates offered on easy-access savings accounts, which typically have a return of less than 1%.

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