HSBC is looking for buyers for three of its largest offices in London, New York and Paris as part of a global asset sell-off in an effort to secure fresh funding.
Only last week, the bank completed the biggest-ever rights issue in the UK, raising £12.5bn and further distancing itself from many of its rivals that have had to rely on government support.
HSBC said the proposed asset sale “covers a number of buildings”, including its London Canary Wharf headquarters.
“We are in the early stages of testing the market as part of actively managing a global property portfolio and will assess interest. If we don’t get the right price we won’t sell,” it said.
The Hong Kong headquarters were not included in the remaining list of property to be considered for sale. HSBC would not give further details on the total sum expected to be raised. It declined to name any other locations in planned sales.
HSBC only bought back its London headquarters from Metrovacesa last November for £838m. That was £170m less than the Spanish property group paid for the 210m skyscraper 18 months before.
Demand for office space has fallen sharply as businesses look to cut jobs and reduce operations. In the City of London, the take-up of new offices is at its lowest level for more than 20 years.
HSBC’s initiative comes as it seeks to strengthen its tier one capital ratio – a key measure of balance sheet strength – with the aim of increasing lending in emerging markets where many western banks are being forced by their respective government shareholders to scale down operations.
The bank made pre-tax profits of $9.3bn (£6.3bn) last year but profits have more than halved since 2007. It also faces the prospect of further losses on its $100bn portfolio.
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