HSBC to increase its lending

9 12 2008


The World’s Local Bank HSBC announced on Monday that it aimed to lend next year roughly two times the amount it lent to homeowners in 2007. For this purpose, it has set aside around £15 billion. In an environment where banks are becoming increasingly reluctant to lend money, HSBC hopes to increase its market share by lending, thereby getting a huge slice of a, albeit, small market. It is also hoping that its customers will continue to bank with it even when the climate improves, because they will remember that HSBC was there for them when all the other banks closed their doors. This will mean that when the market does get bigger, they will effectively have a huge slice of a huge pie.

So, how can HSBC afford to increase its lending when other banks have had to be injected with capital by the taxpayers. HSBC is one of the few banks thathasn’t gone to the taxpayers cap-in-hand asking for a cash injection, it is in fact well capitalised, according to its CEO Michael Geoghegan . According to its spokesperson, HSBC doesn’t have to depend on the two main sources of finance that the banks that were bailed out depended on- the money markets and UK depositors. It will instead fund it internally using its reserves. The reason why other banks are lending less money is because they don’t have enough money to lend.

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It is true that last Thursday the MPC (Monetary Policy Committee) cut the base rate by 1% to 2%-the lowest it has been for years. However, the primary source of finance for most banks is not by borrowing from the Bank of England, but from the money markets. The rate of interest in the money marketshasn’t gone down at the same rate as the base rate. Hence, the cut in the base rate is unlikely to make the cost of borrowing money any cheaper. Another source of finance for banks is their customers’ deposits. However, in recent years, the levels of savings in the UK is said to have decreased. The cut in savings rate by the banks is unlikely toentice people into put their hard earned cash into banks, except for those whom the interest paid is their income.

HSBC also announced a £1 billion fund for lending to small businesses. Small Businesses that are fundamentally sound and only experiencing cash flow problems are the kinds of businesses it is hoping to lend to. The reluctance of banks to lend to sound businesses has been it the news recently, forcing numerous businesses to cease trading just because they have a cash flow problem and not because their business model is fundamentally flawed. The increase in the number of small businesses going bankrupt no doubt puts the jobs of many people at risk and leads to fear amongst those that are in employment. Small business owners, no doubt, will welcome this announcement which will be akin to a lifeline being thrown at them when they are in dire straits.

It has stressed, however, that the lending criteria will still be strict. In other words, they are not planning to throw money at anybody who asks for it.

Even if this announcement does not completely restore confidence, any good news is welcome in these gloomy times. It is unlikely that any other major bank will come forward and increase its lending in the near future, no matter how much Brown, Darling orMandelson threaten or cajole them into doing so. In a way, one cannot blame the banks which have been bailed out for being reluctant or in their words, “careful”, of lending. On one hand, they are the subject of many a joke and their “irresponsible” lending is being blamed for all this mess, and on the other hand, they are being pushed to lend at levels of last year.The money which has been lent to the banks on behalf of the taxpayers has not come cheap, the banks have had to pay a hefty price for it.

HSBC, Bradford & Bingley and Seagate cut jobs to cut costs.

26 09 2008

HSBC announced today that it was going to sack 1,100 of its 335,00 employees employed worldwide. According to the BBC, half of these job losses will be from the investment banking section of HSBC whose headquarters is situated at Canary Wharf.

Mortgage lender Bradford & Bingley announced yesterday that it would sack 370 of its employees in a bid to cut down its costs. 300 of these will be from its mortgage processing centre in Borehamwood, Hertfordshire, while the rest will consist of mortgage advisers and sales staff. Bradford & Bingley believe that these job cuts will save them around £15 million in costs. However, it also plans to add about 70 more staff to collect repayments from their customers who have failed to pay up. B&B specialises in buy-to-let and self-certified mortgages and has been hit heavily by the falling property prices since the fall in price leads to negative equity of its assets, i.e., the value of the property is less than the loan secured against it. B&B is also finding it hard to attract depositors because last week, B&B’s credit rating by the credit rating agencies Fitch, Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s was downgraded to just above junk status.

Electronics company Seagate Technologies, which is one of the world’s largest manufacturer of hard drives, announced yesterday that it is moving its manufacturing from Limavady in Northern Ireland to Malaysia which will see 1000 employees lose their jobs. The factory at Limavady has operated for the last 10 years and was due to be shut down around October end this year but its closure was brought forward. Although Seagate may not be a household name, its hard drives can be found in consumer electronics ranging from computers, portable music players and games consoles such as the PlayStation and Xbox.