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RETAIL BANKING | Cesar Tordesillas, China
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Asian growth pushes HSBC profits to $22B

HSBC made a $21.9 billion profit last year, the largest among western banks, as its strength in Asia helped it cope with a euro zone debt crisis.

 

The bank, Europe's biggest, makes more than three quarters of its pretax profit outside Europe and North America. It expects Asia, Latin American and Middle Eastern markets to continue growing strongly in 2012, albeit more moderately than in 2011.

HSBC, with around 7,200 offices in 80 countries, said pretax profit rose 15 percent, just below analysts' average forecast of $22.2 billion in a Reuters poll.

The figure fell short of the group's record profit of $24.2 billion in 2007, but beats all other western banks that have reported so far for last year, including U.S. rival J.P. Morgan, which made a $19 billion profit.

HSBC's profits were boosted by $3.9 billion of gains on the value of its debt.

Stripping that out, underlying pretax profit fell 6 percent to $17.7 billion, due in part to rising wages in emerging markets and to restructuring costs.

Chief Executive Stuart Gulliver is reshaping HSBC to cut annual costs by $3.5 billion, lift profitability and sharpen its focus on Asia, and he said he will step up the execution of his plan this year.

At 0840 GMT, HSBC shares in London were up 0.5 percent at 577.3 pence, outperforming a 0.6

percent drop on the UK's benchmark FTSE 100 index .FTSE.

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