We performed reasonably well in the first half of the year in the face of considerable uncertainty. Profits were down against a strong first half of 2015, but our diversified, universal banking business model helped to drive growth in a number of areas. We also captured market share in many of the product categories that are central to our strategy.
We are now more than a year into implementing our strategic actions to improve returns and gain the maximum value from our international network. We have made good progress in the most pressing areas but have further to go in others, due largely to external factors.
We will execute a share buy-back of up to USD2.5 billion. This should benefit all shareholders and demonstrates the strength and flexibility of our balance sheet
We completed the sale of our Brazil business to Banco Bradesco S.A. in July. This transaction reduces Group risk-weighted assets by around USD40 billion and would increase the Group’s common equity tier 1 ratio from 12.1 per cent as at 30 June 2016 to 12.8 per cent.
Following the successful sale of our Brazil business and having received the appropriate regulatory clearances, I am pleased to announce that we will execute a share buy-back of up to USD2.5 billion. This should benefit all shareholders and demonstrates the strength and flexibility of our balance sheet.
Turning to our four global businesses, Global Banking and Markets weathered a large reduction in client activity in January and February, but staged a partial recovery in the second quarter. Equities and Foreign Exchange had a difficult half, but Rates performed well on the back of increased client volumes.
Retail Banking and Wealth Management was also affected by reduced client activity. This led to lower revenue in our Wealth businesses, albeit against last year’s strong second quarter which was boosted by the Shanghai-Hong Kong Stock Connect. Higher lending balances in Mexico and increased customer deposits in all but one region compensated partly for the reduction in revenue from Wealth Management, with positive implications for future growth.
Commercial Banking performed well on the back of targeted loan growth in the UK and Mexico and higher client balances in Global Liquidity and Cash Management, which is the new name for Payments and Cash Management.
Global Private Banking attracted USD5 billion of net new money in the first half, more than half of which came through greater collaboration with our other global businesses.
Loan impairment charges increased, mainly in the oil and gas, and metals and mining sectors, and in Brazil due to weakness in the Brazilian economy. We remain confident of our credit quality.
In the first half of the year we removed an extra USD48 billion of risk-weighted assets from the business, around half of which came from Global Banking and Markets. This takes us more than 60 per cent of the way towards our target and keeps us on track to deliver the savings we promised by the end of 2017. These savings were in addition to the USD40 billion reduction from the sale of our operations in Brazil. We continued to make progress in cutting costs. We are on track to hit the top end of our USD4.5 billion to USD5.0 billion cost savings target range.
We are on the way to restoring profitability in both Mexico and the US. In addition, we continue to develop our Asia businesses – particularly Asset Management and Insurance and our operations in the ASEAN region and the Pearl River Delta. We also maintained our leadership of the market for renminbi business, topping the Asiamoney Offshore RMB Poll for the fifth year in a row.
While the economic environment remains difficult, the action we have taken has already put us in a far better position for when normal conditions return. HSBC is stronger, leaner and better connected than it was last June. There is much still to do, but we are making progress in all the areas within our control. In the meantime, our balanced and diversified business model, strong liquidity and strict cost management make us highly resilient.