HSBC yesterday took a major step in disposing of businesses the bank's new chief executive does not think are core parts of its operation.
Its general insurance operations in Hong Kong, Singapore, Argentina and Mexico are being sold for a total of $914m (£581m). Axa is paying $494m for the Hong Kong, Singapore and Mexican businesses, while QBE Insurance is buying the Argentinian operation for $420m.
Stuart Gulliver, chief executive of HSBC, said: "This is a further step in the execution of our strategy. It will enable us to focus our capital... on the growth of our core businesses, including the building of our broader wealth management capabilities."
The deals take the number of disposals under Mr Gulliver's leadership to 23 worth more than $6bn. The gross asset value of the businesses being sold was $1.23bn at the end of 2011.
Under the terms of the deals, HSBC will make the buyers sole providers of motor, property and casualty insurance to its retail and commercial customers in their respective countries.
Axa was already the No 1 insurer in Mexico and second in Singapore, but the deal in Hong Kong, which combines the top two insurers, moves its market share up from 6 per cent to 13 per cent.