HSBC eyes New Zealand sale as once global empire shrinks

By Lawrence White

LONDON, Nov 30 (Reuters) - HSBC HSBA.L is reviewing its retail banking business in New Zealand with a view to selling it, a spokesperson said on Wednesday, in what would be the latest in a string of asset sales in recent years as the bank tries to improve returns.

"Like many organizations, HSBC regularly engages in business reviews to optimize our network operations for the long term," the spokesperson said.

The bank's wholesale banking business in New Zealand will not be impacted by the review, she added.

The news comes just a day after HSBC announced the sale of its much larger Canadian business, and the lender has also cut its U.S. and French retail banks in the last two years.

HSBC once billed itself as the world's local bank and built a network of local banking units worldwide, but the cost of operating such subsidiaries and competition from incumbent players in each market have dimmed returns.

The lender is now pruning back wherever it can, spurred on by pressure from its biggest shareholder, Ping An Insurance Group of China, to improve returns.

HSBC's business in New Zealand is small, generating a pretax profit of NZ$51 million ($32 million) in 2021, according to a public filing of its accounts.

Bloomberg News earlier on Wednesday reported the review of the New Zealand retail business.

($1 = 1.6041 New Zealand dollars)
Reporting by Lawrence White Editing by David Evans and Mark Potter

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