LONDON (CNNfn) - International bank HSBC Holdings posted a 21 percent rise in earnings for 1999, boosted by booming capital markets and the improved performance of its Asian business.|
The London-based bank, which generates a third of its earnings in Asia, said pretax profit rose to $7.982 billion from $6.571 billion a year earlier, in line with the consensus forecast among analysts polled by Reuters.
European operations provided the strongest growth, with pretax earnings in the region climbing 41.6 percent, helped by an improved performance from its U.K. retail unit. In Hong Kong, profits rose 38.3 percent, reflecting the improved Asian business.
Charges for bad debts fell 21 percent to $2.07 billion and total assets climbed 18 percent to $569 billion. Net interest income rose 4 percent to $11.99 billion while other income climbed 6 percent to $9.01 billion.
The pretax contribution of HSBC's investment banking arm rose to $793 million, a 66 percent rise on 1998, reflecting a boom in work on mergers, ††acquisitions and sales of debt and equity last year.
The 1999 profit figure included a $115 million restructuring charge for the purchase and integration of Republic New York, the bank formerly owned by the late Edmond Safra, which HSBC bought last year.
HSBC announced that it would invest $2 billion in new technology this year, aiming to expand its Internet banking offerings. HSBC said it had 400,000 Net customers, including brokerage businesses in Australia and Canada and TV-based operations in Britain and Brazil.
HSBC (HSBA) shares were 2.2 percent lower at 701 pence in mid-morning London trading, having peaked at 730 earlier in the session. The stock fell about 1 percent in Hong Kong where 50 percent of the bank's shares are listed.