HongKong Shanghai Banking Corp plays down talk of selling UK banking arm

HSBC plays down talk over UK banking arm

Britain’s largest bank plays says it has no plans to offload its British retail business

Harry Wilson By Harry Wilson9:17AM GMT 10 Dec 2013Follow CommentsComments

HSBC has played down claims it is planning to sell off a stake in its UK retail banking arm, dismissing a report about a potential sale of the business as “speculation”.

The country’s biggest bank was responding to a report in The Financial Times which said the lender had looked at listing the business and selling a 30pc holding.

In a memo to staff, Antonio Simoes, head of HSBC’s UK bank, said the lender had no plans to offload its British retail business.

“We understand this could be unsettling for employees and want to confirm that this is speculation and nothing more,” he wrote.

He added: “The UK is one of our two home markets, along with Hong Kong. Between them they make 40pc to 50pc of group profits in any given year.

“We have seen encouraging growth forecasts for the UK recently. It would be unusual to consider a flotation of 30pc of the business when we would benefit from that growth across 100pc of the UK bank.”

According to the FT report, HSBC has discussed the spin–off of the UK business at board level, amid frustration over the increased cost of regulation and onerous restrictions on its business.

Shares in HSBC were unmoved and ended yesterday’s trading session down 0.24pc at 657.7p, valuing the bank at £123bn.

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