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05 Aug 2013

HSBC Holdings plc Interim Results 2013 – Highlights

  • Reported profit before tax (‘PBT’) was US$14.1bn in the first half of 2013 (‘1H13’), an increase of 10% compared with the same period in 2012 (‘1H12’).
  • Underlying PBT was US$13.1bn, up 47% compared with 1H12, due to higher revenues, lower loan impairment charges, including a notable improvement in our US run-off portfolio, and lower operating expenses.
  • Return on average ordinary shareholders’ equity was 12.0% compared with 10.5% in 1H12.
  • Underlying revenue included net favourable movements on non-qualifying hedges of US$0.8bn, a net gain of US$0.6bn on completion of the sale of our remaining investment in Ping An and a US$0.5bn favourable debit valuation adjustment on derivative contracts.
  • We continued to make progress on delivering our strategy and grew revenues in key areas, led by our Financing and Equity Capital Markets and Credit businesses, residential mortgages in the UK and Hong Kong, and from collaboration between our global businesses.
  • Underlying costs were down 8% on 1H12, due mainly to the non-recurrence of provisions for fines and penalties recorded in 1H12 and lower charges from UK customer redress programmes and restructuring costs.
  • We continued to pursue our strategic aim of improving costs to invest in the business. During 1H13 we achieved US$0.8bn of sustainable cost savings across all regions, taking the annualised total to US$4.1bn since the start of 2011, exceeding our target for the end of 2013.
  • We continued to reshape the business and reallocate capital in line with our strategy, announcing 11 disposals or closures of non-strategic businesses since the start of the year, taking the total to 54 since 2011.

Stuart Gulliver, Group Chief Executive, said: ‘Both reported and underlying profit before tax increased in the first half. These results demonstrate that we have continued to make progress on delivering our strategy.’

HSBC Holdings reports pre-tax profit of US$14.1bn

HSBC made a reported profit before tax of US$14.1bn, an increase of US$1.3bn, or 10%, compared with the first half of 2012.

Profit attributable to ordinary shareholders was US$10.0bn, an increase of US$1.8bn or 23% compared with the first half of 2012.

Net interest income of US$17.8bn was US$1.6bn, or 8%, lower than the first half of 2012.

Net operating income before loan impairment charges and other credit risk provisions of US$34.4bn was US$2.5bn, or 7%, lower than the first half of 2012.

Total operating expenses of US$18.4bn decreased by US$2.8bn, or 13%, compared with the first half of 2012. On an underlying basis, operating expenses decreased by 8%.

HSBC’s cost efficiency ratio was 53.5%, 4 percentage points lower than the first half of 2012. Loan impairment charges and other credit risk provisions were US$3.1bn in the first half of 2013, US$1.7bn lower than the first half of 2012.

The Directors have declared a second interim dividend for 2013 of US$0.10 per ordinary share, a distribution of approximately US$1,864m.

The core tier 1 ratio and common equity tier 1 ratio for the Group remained strong at 12.7%  and 10.1%, respectively, at 30 June 2013.

The Group’s total assets at 30 June 2013 were US$2,645bn, a decrease of US$47bn, or 2%, since 31 December 2012.

Statement by Douglas Flint, Group Chairman

HSBC delivered a solid financial performance in the first half of 2013.

Pre-tax profit on a reported basis was US$14.1bn, US$1.3bn or 10% higher than in the first half of 2012. On an underlying basis, the profit before tax was 47% ahead of the comparable period. Earnings per ordinary share rose by 20% to US$0.54.

These results confirm the value which is being delivered from the continuing reshaping of the Group and from enforcing appropriate cost discipline.

Driven by capital retention from operating performance, the Group’s capital position strengthened further and the core tier 1 ratio improved to 12.7% compared with 12.3% at the beginning of the year and 11.3% a year ago.

A second interim dividend of US$0.10 per ordinary share was declared by the Board on 5 August taking the total dividends declared in respect of the first half of 2013 to US$0.20 per ordinary share as foreshadowed in last year’s Annual Report and Accounts; this is US$0.02 per ordinary share or some 11% higher than in the comparable period in 2012.

The Group Chief Executive’s Business Review covers this performance in some detail. From the Board’s perspective I want to highlight three points.

Strategy implementation is progressing well

The strategic direction approved by the Board has been to reduce complexity, improve business co-operation, maximise the value of the Group’s long heritage in faster-growing markets, concentrate resources on businesses where scale and connectivity are competitive strengths, and apply and enforce Global Standards to control the risks faced by the Group.

The application of this strategic direction has been most immediately seen in the number of disposals and closures, now 54 since the beginning of 2011, which have sharpened the focus of the Group and eliminated areas of comparative weakness. As important, but less obvious are the steps being taken to build revenues from opportunities hitherto not fully exploited. Two illustrations make this point.

Firstly, as many peer institutions have withdrawn from overseas markets in recent years, HSBC’s scale and connectivity has become a more distinctive competitive strength. This has been built upon most notably in transaction banking, where our Payments and Cash Management, Securities Services and Global Trade and Receivables Finance businesses have grown strongly.

Secondly, our leading positions in Hong Kong in debt and foreign exchange products were not matched historically in equity and mergers and acquisitions products. By committing greater resource and relationship management to these areas, we have driven our market share and positioning to top tier status.

Diversification and scale remain core strengths

At a time of intense international focus on the resolvability of systemically important financial institutions such as HSBC, the Board continues to believe strongly in the benefits that accrue both to customers and to the Group from a diversified universal banking model and from scale.

In the first half of 2013, there was a good balance between our global businesses with the largest, Global Banking and Markets, representing just over 40% of pre-tax profit. Geographically, profits were well spread with the largest proportion generated in markets recognised to have sustainably higher growth prospects. All regions were profitable in the period.

The advantage of having both intermediation businesses within retail and commercial banking and debt capital markets activities within Global Banking and Markets was again clearly illustrated in the period. While demand for bank credit remained muted, continuing low interest rates drove primary issuance through our debt capital markets operations, notably in Europe and Hong Kong. As emerging market customers increased their participation in debt capital markets, our well-established presence and relationships successfully channelled business opportunities.

Implementing and enforcing Global Standards remains a key priority

HSBC’s Global Standards programme is a centrepiece of our strategy to ensure HSBC is well-positioned to succeed. Our stated objective of being the world’s leading international bank means that we also must be a leader in implementing the most effective standards globally. We are devoting significant resources and attention to this effort as we know we must back our strong commitment with capability. Over the past six months, we have increased resources in our Regulatory and Financial Crime Compliance units by over 1,600 headcount and are delivering mandatory training to all of our employees globally on critical compliance subjects on an ongoing basis.

With regard to the Deferred Prosecution Agreement (‘DPA’) entered into with the US Department of Justice on 11 December 2012 and the associated legal and regulatory undertakings, the outstanding procedural arrangements have now been finalised.

On 1 July 2013, the US District Court Judge to whom the case was assigned formally approved the DPA, subject to a continued monitoring of its execution and implementation.

On 22 July, Michael Cherkasky began his work as the Monitor charged with evaluating and reporting upon, over a five-year period, the effectiveness of the Group’s internal controls, policies and procedures as they relate to ongoing compliance with applicable anti-money laundering and sanctions laws. Mr Cherkasky’s career has been characterised by his service to law enforcement in the US, both as a public servant and in private life through support and oversight roles.

Regulatory update

Strategy implementation continues to be executed within an evolving regulatory landscape. I drew attention in my report at the end of last year to the extensive programme of work still to be completed within the regulatory reform agenda. This remains the case. We continue to commit significant resources to work with public policy, regulatory and industry bodies to deliver the outcomes we jointly seek in terms of greater stability of the financial system and the restoration of society’s trust and confidence in our industry.

Much of the reform programme has to date addressed the structural and financial underpinnings of our industry.

With progress in these areas solidly on track, it is good to see greater focus now being directed to the more complex areas, such as cross-border resolution issues, bail-in hierarchies and conduct and behaviour regulation.

In the latter area, the UK Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards delivered its report on 12 June 2013. Their report is the most comprehensive study so far anywhere in the world to address the conduct and behavioural issues that, in truth, lie at the heart of the restoration of confidence and trust.

The report is hard-hitting and uncomfortable to read. Contained within the report are many constructive proposals to help fix the issues which have afflicted the industry, most importantly through re-establishing core values of personal responsibility and accountability. Some of the recommendations will be challenging to implement and there are some that we believe could have unintended consequences.

This notwithstanding, the report’s analysis and recommendations have, as the UK Government recognised in its response, provided a formidable evidence base from which to implement the further changes needed to return banking to its core role within society of financing economic growth. We believe this is the right objective to emphasise and it has our full support.

Turning to progress on resolution planning, important proposals were published during the period by the EU authorities concerning a framework for bank resolution. Within this framework were proposals around a hierarchy for debt bail-in, designed to prevent any future call upon taxpayer support for a failed financial institution. The use of bail-in of unsecured debt in resolution carries broad industry backing in principle. However, we support industry calls for a careful study of the impact that any alteration of the hierarchy of claims will have on market behaviour, before any such hierarchy is finalised. At a time when it is critical to ensure that the fullest extent of financial industry capacity is ready to support economic growth initiatives, any changes that could affect bank funding markets need to be understood fully at both industry and individual bank levels.

Finally, a word on the requirements within the EU’s latest Capital Requirements Directive (‘CRD IV’) that will put a cap on the ratio of variable pay to fixed pay for defined employees across the whole of the HSBC Group from the start of next year. These legislative changes, which are not supported by either the UK Government or the Prudential Regulation Authority, could have a highly damaging impact on our competitive position in many of our key markets, including those outside Europe. The Board is committed to protecting the competitive position of these operations which are critical to the continued success of your Group. We will therefore be consulting on how best to achieve this aim while seeking to preserve the essence of the remuneration framework supported by shareholders two years ago.

Audit arrangements
As was noted in last year’s Annual Report and Accounts, KPMG Audit plc has been the auditor to HSBC Holdings since it became the ultimate holding company of the Group in 1991. Annual re-appointment of KPMG has been approved by shareholders during this period following successive Board recommendations. Your Board announced earlier this year that it intended to put the external audit contract out to tender, responding both to shareholder feedback and emerging regulatory proposals on auditor rotation. That tender process has now been conducted and concluded. As a consequence of this process, the Group Audit Committee has recommended to the Board that PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP be appointed auditor of the HSBC Group with effect from the year ending 31 December 2015. The Board intends to put this recommendation with its endorsement to shareholders at the 2015 Annual General Meeting.

Board changes

Since we reported the full-year results for 2012 there are three changes to report with regard to the Board.

On 31 May 2013, Sir Jonathan Evans (55) was appointed as an independent non-executive Director of HSBC Holdings plc with effect from 6 August. He will also be a member of the Financial System Vulnerabilities Committee.

Sir Jonathan’s career in the Security Service (MI5) spanned 33 years, the last six of which as Director General. During his career, Sir Jonathan’s experience included counter-espionage, protection of classified information and the security of critical national infrastructure. His main focus was, however, counter-terrorism, both international and domestic including, increasingly, initiatives against cyber threats.

Sir Jonathan’s experience and expertise gained from a career at the highest level of public service will be of considerable value to the Board as it addresses its governance of systemic threats.

On 20 May, John Thornton, who had served the Group as an independent non-executive Director of HSBC Holdings plc since December 2008 and as Chairman of the Group Remuneration Committee since May 2010, announced that he would not seek re-election as a Director at the 2013 Annual General Meeting in view of recently expanded responsibilities within his other business interests.

John made an invaluable contribution to the Group during his tenure, not least in his work with shareholders in his position as Chairman of the Group Remuneration Committee. On behalf of the Board and shareholders I would like to take this opportunity once again to thank him for his wise counsel and wish him all the best in his future endeavours.

Finally, Jim Comey, who joined the Board on 4 March this year was nominated by President Obama on 21 June to serve as the next Director of the FBI. Jim was confirmed by the US Senate on 29 July. He will take up his new post on 4 September and accordingly he will step down from the Board with effect from that date. Albeit serving for a very short period on the Board, Jim brought a fresh focus to Board discussions by virtue of his extensive experience accumulated in prior public and private roles at the highest level. We wish him well in his new role.

Looking ahead

Under the leadership of Stuart Gulliver, HSBC has assembled a first rate executive team which, within the strategic mandate and risk appetite approved by the Board, is working tirelessly to place HSBC at the forefront of the industry in terms both of banking standards and shareholder return. They could not succeed in these endeavours without the support, commitment and loyalty of HSBC’s staff across the 80 countries and territories in which we operate and, once again, I pay tribute to them for their dedication at a time of great change in our industry.

Review by Stuart Gulliver, Group Chief Executive
HSBC’s performance during the first six months of 2013 reflected the trends we saw in the first quarter. Economic growth remained muted and regulatory changes continued to impact available returns but, by focusing on the markets and business areas where we have comparative strength and competitive advantage, we have successfully progressed the repositioning of the business to accommodate these factors.

Reported profit before tax in the first half was US$14.1bn, an increase of 10% compared with the same period in 2012. Underlying profit before tax increased by 47%. Return on average ordinary shareholders’ equity of 12.0% was up from 10.5% in the first half of 2012.

We made further progress on delivering our strategy in three key areas.

First, we grew revenues in key areas during the first half of the year, led by our Financing and Equity Capital Markets and Credit businesses, residential mortgages in the UK and Hong Kong, and from collaboration between our global businesses.

Second, we continued to pursue our aim of improving costs to invest in the business, achieving US$0.8bn of additional sustainable cost savings during the period. This takes the annualised total sustainable cost savings to US$4.1bn since the start of 2011, exceeding our original target for the end of 2013. In addition, we achieved a positive gap between underlying revenue and cost growth of 12% in the first half.

Third, we continued to reshape HSBC. In April 2013, we sold a US$3.7bn non-real estate loan portfolio, recording a loss on disposal of US$0.3bn which was considerably lower than initially expected. This accelerated the run-off of the Consumer and Mortgage Lending portfolio in the US where we continue to refocus our business. We have announced a further 11 disposals or closures of non-strategic businesses since the beginning of the year, bringing the total number of transactions announced since the beginning of 2011 to 54. The rate of such transactions will now slow as the first phase of strategic delivery draws to a close.

The steps we have taken to reshape HSBC have released around US$80bn in risk-weighted assets to date, with a further potential release of around US$15bn to come. Alongside internal capital generation, this will add further support to investment in organic growth opportunities which are a strategic fit. These include priority areas such as transaction banking and trade finance, where we are already recognised as a market leader globally and, as mentioned by the Group Chairman in his statement, opportunities such as the development of equities in Hong Kong and our debt capital markets platforms in faster-growing markets, where our well-established presence and strong relationships give us a highly competitive position on which to build.

External recognition of the progress being made is now also evident. HSBC achieved the best showing of any bank at the Euromoney Awards for Excellence 2013. Of particular satisfaction were first time awards for Best Global Emerging Market Investment Bank and Best Equity House and Best M&A House both in Hong Kong as well as repeat awards for Best Global Emerging Market Debt House and Best Global Risk Adviser. Our investment in, and continued commitment to, transactional banking also saw HSBC recognised as Best Global Transaction Banking House.

In addition, as the internationalisation of China’s currency continues apace, HSBC has again been recognised as the market leader for renminbi business. In the recent Asiamoney’s Offshore Renminbi Poll HSBC was ranked first in all product categories.

In May 2013, we set out our plans for the next phase of delivering our strategy, covering the period from 2014 to 2016. Our strategic direction is unchanged and our priorities are clear - to grow the business and dividends, implement the highest Global Standards of conduct and compliance, and streamline our processes and procedures.

We remain committed to our values, and to ensuring that they are reflected in everything we do. Our values are to be dependable, open to different ideas and cultures, and connected to customers, communities, regulators and each other; they form a key part of the annual performance review for everyone who works at HSBC. By implementing Global Standards we are reinforcing the expectation that our employees will do the right thing, act with courageous integrity and maintain the most effective financial crime controls everywhere that we operate.

Group performance headlines

  • Reported profit before tax was US$14.1bn in the first half of 2013, up US$1.3bn, or 10%, on the same period in 2012. This reflected minimal fair value movements on our own debt compared with adverse movements of US$2.2bn in the first half of 2012, and lower operating expenses. This was partly offset by lower net gains from disposals, primarily as 2012 included a gain from the disposal of the US Cards and Retail Services business of US$3.1bn.
  • Underlying profit before tax was US$13.1bn, up US$4.2bn compared with the first half of 2012, due to higher revenues, lower loan impairment charges and lower costs. It is on an underlying basis that we measure our performance.
  • Underlying revenue was up US$1.2bn, or 4%, compared with the first half of 2012, and within this we achieved revenue growth in key areas of our global businesses. Commercial Banking achieved average balance sheet growth, primarily from term and trade-related lending, partially offset by spread compression. In addition, a rise in lending fees and collaboration revenues from closer co-operation with other parts of the Group led to an increase in net fee income. In Global Banking and Markets, revenues were up mainly in Financing and Equity Capital Markets and Credit, while in Retail Banking and Wealth Management we achieved growth in mortgage balances and wider spreads in our home markets of the UK and Hong Kong.
  • Underlying revenue included net favourable fair value movements on non-qualifying hedges of US$0.8bn, a net gain of US$0.6bn on completion of the disposal of our investment in Ping An and a US$0.5bn favourable debit valuation adjustment on derivative contracts.
  • Underlying loan impairment charges were down US$1.3bn, or 29%, compared with the first half of 2012. We saw declines in the majority of our regions, notably in North America, where the decrease primarily reflected improvements in housing market conditions, the continued run-off of the US Consumer and Mortgage Lending portfolio and lower delinquency levels. These factors were partly offset by an increase in individually assessed and collective impairment charges in Latin America.
  • Underlying operating expenses were down US$1.6bn, or 8%, compared with the same period last year. This mainly reflected the non-recurrence of provisions for fines and penalties recorded in the first half of last year, lower charges relating to UK customer redress programmes and lower restructuring costs. Excluding these items, operating expenses increased, mainly reflecting higher litigation-related costs. We continued to pursue our strategic focus on cost improvement to release funds to invest in the growing parts of our business and in our Global Standards governance and programmes. As stated above, during the first half of 2013 we also achieved additional sustainable cost savings.
  • After adjusting for portfolios which we are in the process of disposing of as part of reshaping our business, we grew loans and advances to customers. This principally reflected a rise in term and trade-related lending to Commercial Banking and Global Banking and Markets customers in Hong Kong and Rest of Asia-Pacific, together with continued growth in residential mortgages in the UK, Hong Kong and Rest of Asia-Pacific. These movements were partially offset by the continued run-off of the Consumer and Mortgage Lending portfolio in the US.
  • The core tier 1 ratio was 12.7%, with a common equity tier 1 ratio (Basel III end point) of 10.1% at 30 June 2013, we are well positioned with respect to the implementation of Basel III capital standards and remain one of the best-capitalised banks in the world which provides capacity for both organic growth and dividend return to shareholders.


Despite slower growth in the short term, the long-term economic trends remain intact. The global economy will continue to rebalance towards the faster-growing markets and trade and capital flows will continue to expand.

Growth remains subdued in the Western economies. As such, any tapering of monetary stimuli will be approached with considerable caution. Sustained recovery is likely to depend on structural reform.

In mainland China, the new emphasis on the quality rather than the quantity of growth is shifting the policy balance away from stimulus and towards reform. We believe this is likely to limit the pace of China’s growth to 7.4% for 2013 and 2014, which is already being reflected in more modest growth figures in other markets, particularly in Asia.

However, we believe that China’s reform agenda, which covers financial, fiscal, deregulation and urbanisation reforms, will provide the basis for more sustainable growth in the medium to long term.

With our network covering 80 countries and territories, and strong market shares across the faster-growing markets, HSBC remains well-positioned to benefit from the long-term trends in the global economy.

Read the full media release

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