HONG KONG–HSBC said Wednesday it had sold its private banking business in Japan to Credit Suisse for US$2.7 billion, as part of its broader restructuring to reduce costs and focus on growth. The sale is the latest in a string of transactions since HSBC announced massive cost-cutting measures earlier this year, including plans to save up to US$3.5 billion by 2013 and to axe 30,000 jobs globally. Europe’s largest bank said in a statement released in Hong Kong that it had agreed to sell its private banking business in Japan to Credit Suisse AG and Credit Suisse Securities (Japan) Ltd.
“The value of the gross assets included in the sale was approximately US$2.7 billion at Oct. 31, 2011,” it said. The transaction, which is subject to regulatory approvals, should be completed in the second quarter of 2012. HSBC said Japan remained an “important market” for the London-based bank, which was founded in Hong Kong and Shanghai in 1865 and has traditionally focused on Asia. “As the world’s third largest economy, with significant trade flows with the rest of the world, Japan continues to be an important market for HSBC,” it said. Assets HSBC has offloaded this year include its United States credit card and retail services business, its Canadian retail brokerage, and retail banking businesses in Russia, Chile and Poland. Other global banks including Morgan Stanley and Credit Agricole SA have also announced plans to slash jobs in recent months, as the eurozone debt crisis fans fears of global recession. HSBC last month reported underlying pretax profits sank 35 percent in the three months to September to about US$3 billion, as bad loans rose in the United States, Hong Kong, Brazil and the Middle East. Chief executive Stuart Gulliver said in the earnings release that economic and political uncertainty, particularly in Europe, had hit the banking sector’s performance in the quarter.