HSBC Holdings PLC, a global bank ensnared by tensions between China and the West, is doubling down on Asia, shifting capital, jobs and investment to the region as it pulls back from the U.S. and Europe.
The London-based lender, which makes most of its profit in Hong Kong and mainland China, is already one year into a major overhaul. But it said Tuesday that it is considering selling its unprofitable U.S. retail operations and pouring about $6 billion of investment into Asia in the next five years.
The announcement came as the bank said net profit fell 35% to $3.9 billion last year as the coronavirus pandemic roiled the global economy. HSBC set aside $8.82 billion in provisions for bad loans last year, compared with less than $3 billion in 2019.
Geopolitical tensions have strained Chief Executive Noel Quinn’s ambition for the bank to be a financial bridge between China and the rest of the world. HSBC last year supported China’s imposition of a national security law in Hong Kong, which the U.S. and British governments opposed.
HSBC is “moving the heart of the business to Asia, including leadership,” Mr. Quinn said, though he declined to name bankers relocating to Hong Kong. “The bank will continue to be domiciled in London but I think it is important for some of the executive team to be closer to the growth opportunities, particularly those in front line roles,” he said.