(Bloomberg) -- HSBC Holdings Plc is reviewing its New Zealand retail banking operations as the lender looks for ways to streamline its footprint while heading off calls for a full-blown breakup.
The London-based bank is studying strategic options for the business, a spokesperson for HSBC confirmed in response to Bloomberg queries.
“Like many organizations, HSBC regularly engages in business reviews to optimize our network operations for the long term,” the spokesperson said in a statement. “HSBC’s wholesale business and other operations in New Zealand are not impacted by this review.”
New Zealand generated a pretax operating profit of NZ$50.9 million ($31.7 million) last year, according to accounts filed by HSBC’s local subsidiary. Of this, NZ$7.5 million came from the lender’s New Zealand wealth and personal banking operations.
HSBC became the first overseas lender to gain a New Zealand banking license in 1987 following the deregulation of the country’s financial industry. The bank operates a handful of branches in the country and provides a full range of commercial and investment banking services in addition to its retail business.
The review comes as the bank is pruning back its global footprint and focusing on building up its position in Asia, particularly in wealth management. This week, the lender announced the sale of its Canadian unit to Royal Bank of Canada for $10 billion.
That transaction follows HSBC’s disposal of its French and US retail operations last year. It agreed to sell its Russian unit in July and said in November it will merge its Omani unit with a local lender.
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HSBC has been trying to fight off calls from shareholder Ping An Insurance Group Co., which has argued for a breakup of the bank. HSBC has said that there is little merit in spinning out its Asian operations.
--With assistance from Ambereen Choudhury, Cathy Chan and David Morris.
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