HSBC plans to sell or reduce its business in markets where it is struggling to compete with local players like Oman/Bloombergby Kudakwashe Muzoriwa
HSBC is considering selling its Turkish business amid concerns about the country’s volatile currency and economic outlook.
The bank’s withdrawal from Turkey, where it has operated since 1990, would be one of the biggest exits from a country HSBC has made in recent years as it reduces its once globe-spanning empire.
The bank also plans to sell or reduce its business in some other markets as part of broader cost-cutting measures which were introduced under interim Chief Executive Noel Quinn. Reuters reported that the markets include countries where it has small-scale operations that struggle to compete with local players such as Oman, Armenia and Greece.
According to the Banks Association of Turkey, HSBC has already reduced its presence from 315 branches and around 6,000 staff in 2013 to around 80 branches and 2,000 staff as of September 2019.
Turkey has been a problem country for the bank in recent years as volatility in the lira and economic problems have hit its returns, with the HSBC flagging rising expected loan losses there in its 2018 annual report.
In 2018, a currency crisis cut the lira’s value by nearly 30 per cent, brought on a brief but sharp recession, prompting the government to clamp down on the financial sector with a series of new rules aimed at stabilising the currency and kick-starting economic growth.
HSBC previously attempted to sell its business in Turkey in 2015, with Dutch lender ING among the interested parties
Earlier this month, HSBC commenced the sale of its French retail operations. The bank is considering possible interest from rival French lenders such as La Banque Postale, Credit Agricole as well as Credit Mutuel, Milleis Banque and BNP Paribas.