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Morning Coffee: HSBC and ANZ pursue different Asian agendas

HSBC and ANZ peruse different Asian agendas

Different directions

They’re both Western headquartered banks with a big Asian presence, but employees at HSBC in Asia will be feeling decidedly more content than their counterparts at ANZ right now.

HSBC may be cutting 25,000 jobs globally, but its Asian workforce is comparatively unaffected – and it now its Asia-Pacific boss Peter Wong has announced plans to hire 4,000 new employees in China’s Pearl River Delta region. He expects the unit to generate revenues of $1bn per year by 2020, up from $100m last year.

Meanwhile, despite the recent market turmoil in China, HSBC Chairman Douglas Flint last week gave an optimistic lecture about the future of the banking sector in the country. And in a landmark announcement yesterday, China approved HSBC to sell bonds in its interbank market.

ANZ, by contrast, is beginning to question the “super regional” Asian expansion strategy that it’s been perusing since 2007. CEO Mike Smith, the strategy’s main architect and HSBC’s former Asian boss, said earlier this month that he would be leaving ANZ within the next year. An ANZ spokesman told Reuters that the bank was shifting the emphasis of its business in Asia “somewhat from growth to improved returns”, although it remained committed to the region.

Some analysts are also questioning whether ANZ can meet its goal of generating 25% to 30% of profit from outside Australia by 2017 compared with 20% now. The firm’s Asian business is more costly to run than its domestic Australian operations. “Their Asia strategy needs to be reassessed – if they need to be there and at what size and if you decide to withdraw how do you go about it,” Omkar Joshi from Watermark Funds told Reuters.

“ANZ isn’t hiring as aggressively now in Singapore as it was two or three years ago,” a recruiter in the city state told us, asking not to be named.


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