HSBC may exit Lebanon as it reviews operations

HSBC is reviewing its operations in Lebanon and may exit the Middle Eastern country as the bank focuses on more profitable markets, according to two people with knowledge of the matter.

The bank hasn’t yet made a decision on what to do in the country where it has three retail branches and a corporate banking business, the people said, asking not to be identified because the matter is private. A spokesman for HSBC in Dubai declined to comment.

London-based HSBC said in June that it’s targeting annual cost savings of as much as $5 billion by 2017. The bank is aiming for reductions of $4.5bn to $5bn and is seeking a buyer for its Turkey business after selling operations in Brazil. Under a three-year plan, the lender will reduce the number of full-time employees by 22,000 to 25,000, or about 10 per cent.

In the Middle East, HSBC operates in the UAE, Egypt, Qatar, Oman, Bahrain, Kuwait, Lebanon, and Algeria. In Saudi Arabia, the bank holds a 40 per cent stake in Saudi British Bank and a 49 per cent share in HSBC Saudi Arabia.

HSBC will start building a new Middle East headquarters in Dubai, where it has been operating since 1946, near the world’s tallest tower as it combines staff from three other locations in the city, it said on Sunday.

The lender is in the process of closing its one-branch operations in Ramallah, Palestine, and recently closed its operations in Jordan and Pakistan.

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