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HSBC pushes back against calls to spin-off its Asian business

HSBC has resisted calls to spin-off or demerger its Asian business.

Ping An Insurance Group Co of China, a top shareholder, had urged the London-based bank to think about separating its Asian operations to unlock more value for shareholders.

Some retail investors in Hong Kong supported the idea, as did Christine Fong, a Hong Kong politician. Christine Fong stated on Sunday that “Bringing back primary listing is the best way for minority shareholders to protect their interest.”

“We learned the 2020 cancel dividend lesson. That’s why we strongly endorse Ping An should be elected to the director board of HSBC.”


HSBC stated that external advisors had reviewed its strategy. The results were shared with the board but not made public.

Noel Quinn, chief executive, told Reuters news agency Monday that “If you look at the half-year results, you will see the value in the current strategy.”

Monday’s pre-tax profit was $9.2bn in the six months ended 30 June. This is a decrease from $10.84bn last year, but still higher than the $8.15bn median estimate of analysts.

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HSBC stated that it will accelerate the restructuring of its US- and European businesses, and will rely upon its global network for profits.

Return dividend to pre-COVID levels “as soon as possible”

Mr Quinn stated that “Our strength, as a well-connected, global institution, is the main reason wholesale clients choose us to bank with them and we are determined capitalise on all the advantages our network offers us.”

HSBC owned 10% of Ping An before it sold the stake to make a handsome profit.

Ping An now owns nearly 10% of the bank, making it China’s most valuable publicly listed insurer.

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However, a portion of the income comes from the HSBC dividend. The Bank of England also banned UK lenders from paying dividends in 2020 after COVID-19 became a pandemic.

Even though the dividend was reinstated last year, it was only half of the rate that the bank had paid up to 2018.

The bank’s financial results for Monday revealed that 69% of its first half 2022 profits were attributed to Asia, as opposed to 64% last year.

Mr Quinn stated that the bank will revert to quarterly dividends starting in 2023. He also said: “We understand and value the importance of dividends for all of our shareholders.

“We will strive to return the dividend to preCOVID-19 levels as quickly as possible.”


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