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HSBC to sell Argentina business in $550 million deal

By Diksha Madhok, CNN

New Delhi (CNN) — HSBC has agreed to sell its business in Argentina to Grupo Financiero Galicia — the largest private financial group in the country — for $550 million, the UK-based bank said Tuesday.

The move comes at a time when the bank, Europe’s biggest by market value, is pushing harder into Asia as part of a strategic overhaul unveiled in 2021, and as it has wound down businesses in other regions, including the United States and France.

“HSBC Argentina is largely a domestically focused business, with limited connectivity to the rest of our international network,” CEO Noel Quinn said in a statement, adding that the unit “generates substantial earnings volatility” for the bank.

Analysts said HSBC’s decision to exit the hyperinflationary economy was a continuation of the bank’s efforts to streamline operations.

“This divestiture is consistent with HSBC’s pattern of withdrawing from markets where it has struggled, such as France and Canada,” said Will Howlett, financial analyst at Quilter Cheviot.

HSBC’s Quinn called the deal “another important step” in moving the bank’s focus to “higher-value opportunities across our international network.”

The sale is expected to lead to a $1 billion pre-tax loss for HSBC in the first quarter of this year, the bank added.

Sophie Lund-Yates, lead equity analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said the financial hit would be “short-term” and “offset by relief that the group is coming good on its plans to streamline.”

Meanwhile, HSBC’s China business is also hurting its earnings. The bank reported a big drop in quarterly profit in February, partly because of its exposure to China’s troubled real estate industry.

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