HSBC puts French retail branches up for sale

| February 12, 2008 | 0 Comments

HSBC is putting hundreds of its French regional retail branches up for sale.

Britain’s biggest bank is trying to find buyers for around half of its 800-strong French bank network, estimated to be worth around £2 billion.

It is believed that Goldman Sachs has been appointed to review options for the French network, acquired when it purchased Credit Commercial de France for £6 billion in April 2000 and renamed it HSBC France.

The move is a further indication that the bank is shifting its focus to emerging markets. Its November strategy review confirmed that its priority is to invest primarily in developing markets.

A sale of a large portion of its French retail banking network would stop speculation that the bank may bid for France’s Société Générale, which has been weakened by losses of €4.9 billion (£3.65 billion) as a result of a rogue trader scandal.

Analysts are forecasting 2007 pre-tax profits of approximately £12.3 billion - up from £11.34 billion in 2006. This time last year it shocked the market with the first profits warning in its 142-year history, blaming increasing problems with US mortgages. This problem escalated into the sub-prime mortgage collapse in the US which has now been a problem for many financial institutions worldwide.

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