HSBC poised to sell French branches
Tuesday, 12 February 2008

Reuters . London

HSBC is poised to put hundreds of its French regional retail branches up for sale, a further sign the bank is shifting its focus to emerging markets, according to media reports on Sunday. HSBC is trying to find buyers for around half of its 800-strong French bank network, estimated to be worth around 2 billion pounds ($3.90b), The Sunday Telegraph reported.

The Sunday Times said it was looking to sell around 300 regional retail branches and had appointed Goldman Sachs to advise on the deal. HSBC did not immediately reply to calls for comment. There has been recent industry speculation that HSBC could sell up to 400 of its branches in France as it increases its focus on emerging markets.

Any such disposal would be likely to scotch speculation circulating last week that HSBC may bid for France’s Societe Generale, which has been weakened by losses of 4.9 billion euros ($7.10b) arising from a rogue trading scandal.

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