HSBC Holdings, Europe's largest bank by market value, will cut up to 25,000 jobs around the world to reduce costs and shift its center of gravity back toward the fast-growing Asian economies where it started 150 years ago. The bank, currently based in London, said today it's "undertaking a significant reshaping of its business portfolio" and "redeploying resources to capture expected future growth opportunities." A large chunk of those lost jobs will be in Britain, where up to 8,000 jobs could go. A further concern for British staff is the possibility that the bank will move its headquarters out of London; that decision will come this year. With operations in more than 70 countries and around 51 million customers, HSBC also said it intends to sell its operations in Turkey and Brazil, a move that will cut its workforce by another 25,000.
As well as having an already sizable presence across Asia, HSBC has historic ties to the region. It was founded in Hong Kong in 1865 when the city was a British colony and its original name, later shortened to HSBC, says it all: The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation. Overall, HSBC aims to cut costs by $4.5 billion to $5 billion by the end of 2017 and reduce the number of full-time employees by around 10%, equivalent to between 22,000 and 25,000. Meanwhile, a top union official in Britain said the job cuts are the latest example of a workforce being punished for the misconduct of others, notably those in senior management and investment banking. HSBC has paid billions in fines to settle investigations of market rigging and allegations it helped clients evade taxes and launder money. (Read more HSBC stories.)