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February 11, 2008

HSBC sells French network

by Gill Montia

Story link: HSBC sells French network

HSBC has plans to rid itself of part of its French business, with the sale of around 300 retail regional branches. The network comprises 800 branches in total and is estimated to be worth £2 billion.

The bank has appointed Goldman Sachs to undertake a review of its French network, which it acquired when it bought CCF in 1999.

At that time HSBC rebranded most of the CCF business, but not the retail branches it is now proposing to sell.

During much of last year, HSBC found itself under attack from shareholders led by Knight Vinke Asset Management, which strongly criticised the group’s business strategy.

The proposed sale of the French business is an indication that the charges have been taken seriously by senior management because Knight Vinke particularly raised questions about the diversity of the HSBC group.

The disposal is also in line with the bank’s commitment to build its presence in emerging markets.

To this end, Stephen Green HSBC’s chairman, is currently reviewing the group’s executive pay structure and performance criteria in line with Asian banks. Currently, half of HSBC’s revenues come from Asia.

News of the potential disposal will put an end of speculation that HSBC is considering a bid for the stricken French bank, Société Génerale.

 

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