on May 15, 2013 - 9:33 AM
, updated May 15, 2013 at 1:52 PM
HSBC Holdings Plc, Europe’s largest bank, will eliminate as many as 14,000 more jobs around the world as part of CEO Stuart Gulliver’s plans to cut an additional $3 billion of costs to revive profitability.
The bank expects to reduce the number of employees to as few as 240,000 over the next three years, Gulliver told reporters on a conference call Wednesday as he updated investors on his strategy for the London-based lender. HSBC had already announced plans to reduce the bank’s head count to about 254,000.
Gulliver, 54, is focusing on reducing costs, selling assets and expanding in faster-growing markets as he struggles to boost revenue that’s been crimped by the sovereign debt crisis in Europe. He’s already eliminated more than $4 billion of annual expenses, beating his initial target, and cut 46,000 jobs since he took over in 2011.
“You’re getting cost cuts as a means of sustaining performance, and that’s not a great sign,” said Simon Maughan, an analyst at Olivetree Securities Ltd. in London. “What HSBC is showing you is that there is very little growth in the banking industry for years to come.”
While HSBC has met its original cost savings target, it hasn’t met its goal to reduce costs as a percentage of revenue because income hasn’t grown, Gulliver said.
“After we set the target, the euro-zone crisis started,” he said. The failure to meet the target “comes from the revenue side, rather than the cost side,” he added.
HSBC Bank USA has more than 3,000 employees in the Buffalo Niagara region – at the One HSBC Center tower and the Atrium building in downtown Buffalo, and at a leased location in Depew. HSBC is moving its employees from the tower – where its lease expires in October – into one of the two other facilities, but no jobs are being cut in connection with the transition, said Neil Brazil, a spokesman. HSBC is also upgrading the Atrium and Depew facilities as part of the relocations.
HSBC still has a large Buffalo presence, despite completing a deal to sell its small-business and retail banking operations across the state to First Niagara Financial Group one year ago.
“Buffalo remains a commercial banking and operational center for HSBC in the U.S.,” Brazil said. He noted that Gulliver, during Wednesday’s presentation, said that HSBC will be recruiting selectively in target markets and that the United States “is one of HSBC’s target markets.”
The bank will seek to reduce costs to about 55 percent of revenue in 2014-2016, HSBC said. That compares with a target of 48 percent to 52 percent for the previous three-year period. It plans to eliminate $2 billion to $3 billion of costs.
The additional job cuts will be global and not focused on any particular area of the business, Gulliver said.
HSBC is keeping its goal of return on equity, a measure of profitability, at 12 percent to 15 percent. It was 8.4 percent in 2012. The bank’s so-called core units already achieve return on equity within the target, Gulliver said.
The bank will grow in “commercial banking in Asia Pacific and Latin America, in particular, and into retail banking and wealth management which will be in the U.K. and Hong Kong predominantly,” Gulliver said.
The bank’s financial strength will allow it to invest and increase dividends, Gulliver said. HSBC on March 4 increased its 2012 dividend by 10 percent from 2011 to 45 cents a share.
HSBC sold its stake in Shenzhen, China-based Ping An Insurance (Group) Co. for about $9.4 billion in February and the same month said it would sell its Panama unit for $2.1 billion. It completed the sale of its U.S. credit card unit to Capital One Financial Corp. for a premium of $2.5 billion last May, the same month it agreed to sell four units in Latin America for about $400 million to Colombia’s Banco GNB Sudameris SA.
News Business Reporter Matt Glynn contributed to this report.