Strong cost cutting and a surge in its Asia division caused HSBC's profit over the first half-year of 2015 to jump by 10.4% to $13.6bn (£8.7bn, €12.4bn) it announced on 3 August. The UK-headquartered bank reported a 5.5% fall in revenue to $16.4bn (€23.4bn, $25.6bn), but the company increased margins and generated profits over its Hong Kong broking division.
Profit attributed to the company's Asia unit soared by 19.1% to $9.4bn. The bank's Asia division saw a 5.2% increase in customer accounts and the division's revenue and profits grew more than any other HSBC unit.
Chief executive Stuart Gulliver said that the effect from cuts in spending would be even more noticeable in the second half of HSBC's financial year. He said: "In June we announced a series of strategic actions to capture the value of our international network in a much changed world. We are executing these plans and have significant momentum moving into the second half of the year."
The strategic plans outlined in June included the disposal of 50,000 jobs, of which up to 8,000 would fall in the UK. The cuts were excluding the sale of the company's Brazil and Turkey divisions.
HSBC announced it had more than doubled the amount put aside for regulatory costs regarding its foreign exchange manipulation to $1.3bn, but still managed to increase margins in several divisions.
Moving and disposing
Along with the interim results, the bank announced it had come to an agreement to sell its unprofitable bank in Brazil to Banco Bradesco for $5.1bn. This is a lot higher than market expectation but subject to regulatory rule. The deal on the Bank's division in Brazil was part of the streamlining announced in a trading update on 9 June 2015 and includes the sale of HSBC Bank Brasil Banco Múltiplo and HSBC Serviços e Participações. HSBC announced that it would still stay active in Brazil.
The investor update in June also saw HSBC announce developments in its consideration of a relocation to Hong Kong from the UK. The positive results from Europe's biggest bank in its Asia, and specifically Hong Kong division, might tip the scale in Hong Kong's direction.
HSBC pays 40% of the UK's income on bank levy imposed during the financial crisis, which means it costs the bank £750m a year. In order to maintain its competitive advantage, the company announced it will review the headquarters' current UK location. In the trading update, the bank's executives said the review should be completed by the end of 2015, and set out 11 basic criteria for the new location.
In chancellor George Osborne's summer budget on 8 July, the government announced it will change the levy after banks continued to protest the effect it had on their financial operations. Osborne said he is planning to gradually reduce the levy rate over the next few years, abolishing it completely in 2021. He is imposing an 8% surcharge on profit tax so the banks are not exempt from paying their part.
He said: "Banks make a key contribution to our economy, but they also need to make a fair contribution. It's important they help pay back the debt build up in the banking crisis but equally important that they keep on creating jobs... To maintain a fair contribution from banks, I will introduce an 8% surcharge."