HSBC rejects bail-out speculation

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The Independent Online

HSBC today rejected speculation that it may be next in line to seek capital support from the Government.

In a statement to the stock market, the global banking giant said: "HSBC has not sought capital support from the UK Government and cannot envisage circumstances where such action would be necessary."

"HSBC has long been one of the world's most strongly capitalised banks and is committed to maintaining this position," the company added.

HSBC did not take up the Government's original bank bail-out, fuelling speculation that it may now be forced to do so or seek a further injection of funds from shareholders.

It is in a different position from the other UK banks given its broad geographical spread and a major presence in emerging markets such as Asia and Latin America. It has more than 9,500 offices in 85 countries.

The company said it planned to issue its full-year results in early March.

At the half-year stage, global bad debt charges jumped 58% to 10.1 billion US dollars (£5.1 billion) - with impairments of 6.6 billion US dollars (£3.4 billion) in its troubled US consumer finance business largely to blame.

On top of this, HSBC wrote off a further 3.9 billion US dollars (£2 billion) on investments hit by the credit crunch - leaving its pre-tax profits 28% lower at 10.25 billion US dollars (£5.2 billion).

HSBC shares were around 1% lower today.