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HSBC net profit rises 52.5% on lower fines

HSBC Holdings PLC reported an increase in third-quarter net profit and said it was making progress on initiatives it has undertaken as part of a global overhaul to improve profitability.

The bank reported third-quarter net profit rose 52.5% to $5.23 billion compared with $3.43 billion over the same three-month period a year ago.

Profit before tax increased by 32% to $6.10 billion, up from $4.61 billion a year ago, reflecting lower fines, settlements, customer redress and movements in the bank's own debt, the British bank said.

Shares of HSBC were roughly flat in afternoon Hong Kong trading as the bank reported its adjusted revenue declined by 4% to $14.04 billion. The drop was mainly due to lower revenues in its retail banking and wealth management, and global banking and markets businesses. A $300 million decline in revenue reflected lower wealth-management income in Hong Kong, the bank said.

Revenues were affected by the stock market correction in Asia during the quarter, Chief Executive Stuart Gulliver said in a statement.

The results come as HSBC's management is under increasing pressure from investors to speed up the restructuring of the group. Earlier this year the bank presented a plan to pivot its business toward Asia. But results have been tempered by a slowing Chinese economy and mounting regulatory costs. Shares are down around 16% for the year, leaving shareholders eager to see the bank to accelerate its plan to focus more on Asia and exit more markets.

Mr. Gulliver said the bank had reduced risk-weighted assets by an additional $32 billion as part of its goal to reduce $290 billion of such assets by the end of 2017. The bank has reduced risk-weighted assets by $82 billion since the beginning of the year.

Adjusted operating expenses rose by 2% in the quarter compared with a year ago, to $8.58 billion, in part due to investments in regulatory programs and compliance, the bank said.

This spring, HSBC announced it was reviewing whether it should remain based out of London. Hong Kong, Shanghai and cities in the U.S. are being considered as alternatives, according to people familiar with the matter. The bank's board is weighing whether it needs to relocate to a bigger economy or one that is less tilted toward financial services.

The bank on Monday said the review is progressing, and that while it had been targeted to finish by the end of this year, "this is a self-imposed deadline that can be moved should the Board require further work to be performed."

HSBC is also evaluating the impact of a Europe-wide cap on bonuses and U.K. plans to force local lenders to segregate their investment and retail banking activities, according to people familiar with the matter. Mr. Gulliver recently said the decision could be pushed into next year.

In June, the bank unveiled a plan to cut 50,000 jobs. as it pares back its sprawling operations. It also plans to raise its return on equity, a key measure of profitability, to beyond 10% by 2017.

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