HSBC reports bumper profits on rising interest rates

Banking giant HSBC said that pre-tax profit more than doubled to $21.7-billion in the first half of 2023, boosted by higher interest rates.
HSBC's profits have been boosted by surging interest rates by central banks aimed at taming inflation

HONG KONG - Banking giant HSBC said that pre-tax profit more than doubled to $21.7-billion in the first half of 2023, boosted by higher interest rates.

The massive jump from $8.8-billion in the same period a year ago came as central banks around the world have ramped up borrowing costs to fight inflation, helping inflation lenders' income.

HSBC said revenue jumped $12.3-billion to $36.9-billion.

"We have delivered a strong first-half performance and are confident of achieving our revised mid-teens return on tangible equity target in 2023 and 2024," chief executive Noel Quinn said in a statement.

"There was good broad-based profit generation around the world, higher revenue in our global businesses driven by strong net interest income, and continued tight cost control," chief executive Noel Quinn said in a statement.

The firm also said second-quarter earnings came in better than forecast, jumping almost 90 percent to $8.8-billion, thanks to the bumper income from surging interest rates.

With regards to the outlook, it said: "Given the current market consensus for global central bank rates, we have raised our 2023 full-year guidance for net interest income to above $35-billion."

HSBC continued to sharpen its focus on Asia for diversification of revenue.

With around two-thirds of its revenue from the region, the lender has sold its Canadian, French retail and Greek businesses, exiting from Russia and downsizing personal banking in New Zealand.

The group said to grow income by investing in wealth business, especially in Asia, would be a key strategic priority to diversify its revenue.  

In May it defeated an activist proposal supported by its largest stakeholder, Chinese insurer Ping An, to spin off the bank's Asia business in a search of better returns.

Ping An, which has a stake of more than eight percent in the bank, argued that the lender lags behind international peers and that a recent improvement in performance was tied mainly to rising interest rates, which it claims have peaked.

Ping An had called on HSBC to engage in a "strategic restructuring" that would see it create a separately-listed bank headquartered in Hong Kong.

The proposal was voted down more than 80 percent of the voting shareholders.

In June the firm relaunched the newly acquired British arm of collapsed US lender Silicon Valley Bank as part of a major push into technology and life sciences.

The firm rebranded SVB UK as HSBC Innovation Banking, it said in a statement, three months after it bought the unit in a rescue deal for £1 ($1.20).

Tuesday's report was welcomed by shareholders, with shares in HSBC jumping 1.5 percent to a four-year high in Hong Kong afternoon trade.

The stock has soared by more than a third this year, far outpacing the broader Hang Seng Index. 

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