Breakingviews

FX fines are wake-up call on self-policing

November 12, 2014

The $3.4 bln settlement for five banks works out on average at 20 pct higher than Libor – because the firms failed to mend their ways. Regulators are seeking yet tougher internal controls. Banks have a last chance to show they can treat clients fairly.

UK banks have much to fear from latest probe

July 18, 2014

Britain’s top antitrust watchdog has warned lenders to expect a full-blown competition investigation. Forced divestments would be a surprising outcome. But given the persistence of concern in spite of past probes, investors should brace for radical, profit-sapping remedies.

Record fine shows some banks are too big to indict

December 11, 2012

HSBC’s $1.9 bln fine may look big, but for the bank it’s small beer. Regulators reportedly wanted to go the whole hog and indict the UK lender, but backed down on systemic risk fears. Yet another sign that four years after Lehman’s collapse, finance is far from fixed.

HSBC needs to put numbers on China ambition

November 19, 2012

The emerging market lender is in talks to offload its $9.2 bln stake in insurer Ping An. A sale fits HSBC’s focus on capital efficiency. But now CEO Stuart Gulliver should explain why the bank’s even larger shareholding in Bank of Communications still makes financial sense.

HSBC still aiming at its moving targets

November 5, 2012

The emerging market bank’s costs are still above CEO Stuart Gulliver’s goal, and returns still below. One-off charges for UK mis-selling and U.S. money-laundering are partly to blame. But if these prove a recurring cost of doing business, HSBC’s targets may need adjusting.

StanChart joins banking march into mire

August 6, 2012

New York regulators accuse the UK-based lender of covering up $250 bln of sanctions-busting transactions with Iran. It’s a big setback for one of the last global banks to have dodged financial and legal woes. Even just a fine for StanChart will leave the industry lacking halos.

HSBC held back by developed-world headaches

July 30, 2012

The bank’s earnings are strong enough to absorb a $2 billion charge for mis-selling in the UK and money-laundering in the U.S. After HSBC’s sub-prime woes, it’s another reputational stain. Yet the setback will only reinforce the bank’s strategic shift to emerging markets.

HSBC looks like best of a bad bunch

February 28, 2012

Scale, diversification and good management helped HSBC only so much in 2011. There were bright spots in Asia and parts of the investment bank. But the impact of the euro zone crisis was more powerful. While HSBC is bigger and better, it is, after all, still a bank.

Lone Star chalks up painful success in Korea

November 29, 2010

Lone Star has finally agreed to sell its majority stake in the lender to domestic rival Hana Bank. The sizeable returns it has made explain why buyout groups like Blackstone and KKR are interested in South Korea.

HSBC getting back to form

August 2, 2010

HSBC is getting back to form. A sharp fall in impairments at the bank's U.S. operations, coupled with a strong performance from its investment bank, helped drive a doubling in first-half earnings.