HSBC Annual Profit Increases, Growth in Asia Drives Earnings

On Tuesday, HSBC said that profits rose thanks to strong earnings in Asia, the most recent sign that the global bank, based in London is seeing its restructuring to focus more in that region paying off.

The bank announced that its pretax profit, following adjustments for one-off items as well as fluctuations in currency, increased by 11% in 2017 to $21 billion, with adjusted revenue climbing by 5% to over $51.5 billion.

The bank announced that its net income was $10.8 billion which was quadruple that for the same period in 2016.

The bank is the largest in Europe, but Asia represented close to 90% of total profits in 2017, when HSBC completed its multiyear corporate overhaul to increase its profitability.

The overhaul including slashing thousands of jobs, bringing new leadership in, and selling businesses across the globe so it could focus on Asia’s emerging markets.

HSBC has been focusing particularly in Hong Kong and the Pearl River Delta affluent region in nearby mainland China.

Mark Tucker, the chairman of the bank, is an outsider who took the reins in October. He said the bank has forecasted that the worlds’ major economies would have reasonable growth in 2018, helped by lower employment, improving trade, and consumer confidence returning.

Worries over a hard landing of the economy in China receded, and markets in all of Asia appear ready for a strong year, said Tucker.

In addition, he said that he expected the signing in 2018 of regional trade agreements, mostly involving nations in Asia added optimism, while the massive infrastructure program Belt and Road Initiative in China provided more business opportunities.

However, rising tensions internationally and threats of protectionism are amongst the risks that have the possibility to cause a disruption in economic activity, he added.

A new CEO, John Flint will take the helm on Wednesday from outgoing Stuart Gulliver, who will retire following seven years in charge.

This past December, the bank passed an important milestone when a deferred prosecution agreement from five years ago with the Department of Justice in the U.S. expired. It was hugely important for the financial institute as it allowed it to avoid any charge in the scandal of money laundering that involved Mexican drug cartels and countries facing sanctions by the U.S.

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