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HSBC to press on with 35,000 job cuts

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HSBC, the UK’s largest bank, is to resume its plans to cut 35,000 jobs.

New chief executive Noel Quinn gave the news to his 235,000 staff around the globe in a memo seen by the BBC and confirmed as authentic by the bank.

The lender had originally announced the plan in February, but put it on hold amid the coronavirus pandemic.

HSBC said it would try to find internal jobs for those affected but that redundancies were likely.

In April, the bank had said it would hold fire on the cuts, explaining that it did not want to leave staff unable to find work elsewhere during the coronavirus outbreak.

The move is part of a restructuring programme which aims to achieve $4.5bn (£3.6bn) of cost cuts by 2022.

Some cuts are likely to come from merging support roles in the commercial bank and investment bank. The bank will also review less-profitable areas of business.

‘Why now?’

At its peak, the bank employed more than 300,000 people, but since the global financial crisis around 2008, HSBC has sold businesses and left some countries, including Brazil in 2016.

Various chief executives have aimed to make HSBC a simpler business, especially after the bank agreed to pay $1.9bn to regulators in 2012 over poor money laundering controls.

Trade union Unite said the news would cause apprehension with many lockdown measures still in place.

“The question that must be asked today is why now HSBC?” Dominic Hook, Unite national officer said. “At present vast numbers of HSBC staff are making massive sacrifices working from home or taking risks travelling into offices and bank branches to help customers.”

“Unite will continue to oppose any compulsory job losses within HSBC and work vigorously to ensure staff are heard and their jobs protected,” he said.

The bank also faces political challenges. It is reliant on China’s attitude towards its massive home market of Hong Kong, and on the US to be able to bank in dollars, the currency of choice for many commodity markets.

Earlier this month, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo criticised HSBC for supporting China’s move to impose new security legislation in Hong Kong.

Mr Pompeo also said the US stood with its allies against China’s “coercive bully tactics”.

The Trump administration has repeatedly attacked Beijing for what it says is an attempt to end Hong Kong’s autonomy.

HSBC, which is UK-based but was formed in Hong Kong in 1865, declined to comment on Mr Pompeo’s remarks.

Last month, China’s parliament approved a resolution that would impose legislation on Hong Kong that criminalises criticism of the city’s government.

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