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商业 - 金融

汇丰的中国梦绕不开这些绊脚石

Shawn Tully 2015年06月25日

这家总部设在伦敦的银行正打算把绝大部分业务转移到中国大陆,但面前决不会是一条坦途。问题在于,中国会不会对外国银行开放市场,或者开放程度是否让汇丰实现其增长预期?目前还看不到迹象。

    汇丰正在启动一场“寻根之旅”。它127年前于香港成立,全名为“香港上海汇丰银行有限公司”。1992年收购英国米特兰银行后,汇丰将总部迁至伦敦。现在,经过几十年的全球化扩张,发展出横跨欧洲、美国和南美的商业、消费和投资银行网络后,汇丰开始收缩扩张步伐,并打算大举回归亚洲市场。作为欧洲银行业龙头,汇丰正在考虑是否把全球总部从伦敦金丝雀码头的44层大厦搬回发源地香港,其对亚洲策略的上心程度由此可见一斑。

    6月9日,汇丰公布了150多页的新计划,其中详尽地介绍了各项业务,并预测了哪些业务将继续扩张,哪些业务将收缩。首席执行官欧智华及下属在长达4小时41分钟的电话会议中向分析师解读了各项数据。

    欧智华希望扭转汇丰盈利不断下滑的局面。显然,这家银行的盈利已经不能弥补资本成本。2014年,其股本回报率为8.5%,低于2010年的11.7%。欧智华表示,股本回报率下降有多个原因,包括利差大幅收窄;主要因处理金融危机遗留问题带来的110亿美元的罚款和诉讼费用;以及上缴英国政府的11亿美元银行税。最后一项也是汇丰打算离开英国的一个主要因素。

    近几年,汇丰业绩长期低迷,主要原因在于亚洲之外的各地区分行经营成本高,业务发展缓慢。简而言之,欧智华的计划是缩减和出售其他大多数市场的业务,由此赚得的资金用来支持在他认为有前景的地区增长,特别是中国大陆市场。

    按照欧智华的策略,汇丰将通过剥离不盈利业务释放1800亿-2300亿美元风险加权资产。在资产负债表中,此类资产余额的上升或下降体现了汇丰旗下业务的风险水平。欧智华打算出售土耳其和巴西业务,并大幅压缩投行部门规模。退出这两个市场后,汇丰的员工人数将减少2.2万人。欧智华还计划在其他表现欠佳的市场裁员2.5万人。

    按照欧智华提出的方案,汇丰将把资产剥离带来的资金用于在亚洲的大规模扩张。为了和业务增长相配套,该行将在亚洲招聘2.5万名员工,基本相当于在其他地区的裁员人数。这样的思路看起来极为合理。汇丰6月9日介绍新计划时还透露重要信息,尽管有着全球性银行的名头,汇丰的发展非常倚重亚洲,同时表明在其他大多数地区的经营情况非常之差。

    让我们从其他地区看起。2014年,欧洲占汇丰资产的30%,带来的税前利润却只有3%。北美的情况略好一些,利润和总收入贡献率分别为8%和18%。两地的业务毫无进展,收入都基本持平。

    相反,亚洲占汇丰资产的40%,去年为该行带来了36%的收入以及78%的税前利润。亚洲还是汇丰唯一实现增长的主要市场,年增长率约为7%。

    但欧智华的计划确实有一个潜在缺陷。虽然在香港汇丰是个庞然大物,但在中国大陆,也就是今后汇丰打算大展拳脚的地区,它只能算个小矮子。在香港,汇丰不仅拥有庞大的金融服务网络,还在当地银行业龙头恒生银行持有多数股份。同时,汇丰和恒生两家银行占香港总贷款的25%,总存款的30%,总金额高达3800亿美元。2014年,香港为汇丰贡献了约71亿美元利润,几乎占总利润的40%,收入占比也接近这个水平。

    然而,汇丰在中国大陆的规模要小得多。在大陆,汇丰的分支机构还没到200家,不到英国的五分之一。大陆业务吸收的存款只有430亿美元。去年,中国大陆业务的利润达到了近30亿美元,但其中三分之二来自汇丰在交通银行,也即中国第五大银行所持的股份。

    不过,大陆已经成为汇丰的主要利润推动力。目前汇丰业务集中在广东省,这个从香港穿过深圳湾之后的省份是个发展迅猛的工业区。广东GDP规模达1.1万亿美元,超过了印度尼西亚。汇丰的一项研究预测,到2025年,广东将取代东京成为全球最大的银行市场,年收入规模为1850亿美元,是纽约预期收入的两倍以上。

    广东市场的前景无限光明。实际上,中国各家银行多年来一直在广东蓬勃发展。但问题在于,中国会不会对外国银行开放市场,或者开放程度是否让汇丰实现其增长预期。目前还没有迹象。

    在中国增设银行分支机构必须经过政府审批,过程可能耗时数年。为获得中国政府批准,银行经常同意要为边远地区提供服务,而此举会削弱银行的盈利能力。中国政府还会限制总行每年向中国分行提供资金的规模,从而控制分行新建分支机构、安装信息系统以及招聘员工。

    在这些因素的限制之下,外资银行在中国市场的总资产占比只有1.7%。

    不过,看来汇丰确信广东经济将继续快速增长,不会受到中国经济不断减速的拖累,而且中国政府的放贷限制也不会给广东造成不利影响。在当天的会议上,汇丰介绍了面向广东工薪族和企业高层人士的大规模按揭、信用卡、保险以及资产管理服务计划。

    然而,中国大陆并不是香港。外资银行在大陆发展很难,真的很难。亚洲是汇丰的故土,今后能否东山再起取决于汇丰的亚洲业务可不可以重现往日辉煌。(财富中文网)

    译者:Charlie

    审校:夏林

    HSBC is returning to its roots. The Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation took its first name from its home of 127 years, Hong Kong. It moved to London in 1992 when it purchased the UK’s Midland Bank. Now, after decades of going global, growing a commercial, consumer, and investment banking network across Europe, the U.S., and South America, HSBC is downsizing its ambitions and planning a giant “pivot” back to Asia. A sign of just how ardently Europe’s largest bank is pursuing its Asia strategy: HSBC is studying whether to move its 44-story headquarters in London’s Canary Wharf back to where it all started, Hong Kong.

    On June 9, HSBC unveiled its new plan in over 150 pages of presentations that dissected each of its businesses in extraordinary detail and provided forecasts on what would grow and shrink. The bank’s CEO, Stuart Gulliver, and his lieutenants guided analysts through the data in a 4 hour and 41 minute conference call.

    Gulliver wants to reverse the slide in HSBC’s profitability; it’s clear that the bank is no longer earning its costs of capital. In 2014, its return-on-equity stood at 8.5%, down from 11.7% in 2010. Gulliver blamed the drop on a variety of special factors: extremely slender interest rates, $11 billion in fines and litigation costs, mostly a legacy of the financial crisis, and a UK banking tax that last year cost $1.1 billion, a major motivator for leaving Britain.

    HSBC has performed poorly primarily in recent years because of the cost-laden, slow-growing franchises it operates practically everywhere outside of Asia. Put simply, Gulliver plans to shrink and sell businesses in most of the other markets, and use the extra funds to grow where he sees the future, notably mainland China.

    Gulliver’s strategy calls for freeing up between $180 billion and $230 billion in “risk weighted” capital that’s currently backing unprofitable ventures––that’s dollars on the balance sheet marked up or down to reflect the riskiness of the businesses the bank supports. Gulliver pledges to sell HSBC’s franchises in Turkey and Brazil, and severely shrink the investment bank. The exit from those two nations will reduce HSBC’s workforce by 22,000, and Gulliver plans to lay off another 25,000 workers in other poorly performing markets.

    Gulliver’s blueprint calls for using the extra funds to propel a big expansion in Asia. The plan also calls for hiring 25,000 workers, about the number HSBC is axing elsewhere, to support the campaign. The idea appears to make terrific sense. Perhaps the biggest revelation from the June 9 presentation is how heavily HSBC, despite its reputation as a global bank, relies on Asia––and how badly it’s faring most other places.

    Let’s start with the rest of the world. In 2014, Europe held 30% of HSBC’s assets and generated a piddling 3% of pre-tax profits. For North America, the figures are only slightly better: 8% of profits on 18% of total revenues. Nor are things improving: Revenues are flat in both the U.S. and Europe.

    By contrast, HSBC has 40% of its assets in Asia and last year garnered 36% of its revenues from the region. Yet Asia accounted for 78% of its pre-tax profits. It’s also the bank’s only major growth market, expanding at around 7% annually.

    Gulliver’s plan does have one potential flaw: HSBC is a colossus in Hong Kong and a pygmy where it’s pledging to exploit what it’s targeted as the market of the future, mainland China. HSBC not only operates a giant financial services network in Hong Kong, it holds a majority of a leading local lender, Hang Seng bank (also owner of the famous stock index). Between them, the two banks hold 25% of all loans in Hong Kong and 30% of deposits, totaling a staggering $380 billion. Hong Kong generated around $7.1 billion in profits in 2014, almost 40% of HSBC’s total, and a like share of revenues.

    On the mainland, however, HSBC’s scale shrinks dramatically. It has fewer than 200 branches in mainland China, less than one-fifth of what it has in Britain. Its deposit base in China is a mere $43 billion. HSBC did manage to book almost $3 billion in profits from mainland China last year, but two-thirds flowed from its stake in Bank of Communications, the nation’s fifth-largest lender.

    Still, HSBC is counting on the mainland as its big profit engine. It’s concentrating on Guangdong province, the booming industrial area across the Shenzhen Bay from Hong Kong. Its GDP of $1.1 trillion exceeds that of Indonesia. An HSBC study predicts that Guangdong will become the world’s biggest banking market by 2025, supplanting Tokyo and boasting $185 billion in annual revenues, more than twice the projection for New York.

    The Guangdong market holds tremendous promise. Indeed, Chinese banks have been thriving there for years. The question is whether China will open this market to foreign banks––or open it enough to allow the kind of growth HSBC anticipates. It hasn’t so far.

    Chinese authorities must review and approve all applications for opening new bank branches, and the process can take years. In exchange for granting permission, the Chinese government often requires banks to serve remote areas, which hurts profitability. The government also limits the amount of annual funding that a parent bank can send its Chinese unit, limiting the ability to build new branches, install information systems, and hire workers.

    Stymied by those restrictions, foreign banks hold a mere 1.7% of total mainland China assets.

    Nevertheless, HSBC seems convinced that Guangdong’s economy will keep growing rapidly, even if China keeps slowing, and that the region won’t suffer from any lending curbs that the Chinese government puts in place. In its presentation, HSBC put forward towering plans to furnish mortgages, credit cards, insurance products, and asset management services to the factory workers and executives in Guangdong.

    But mainland China isn’t Hong Kong. Growing there is hard, really hard. HSBC’s future success depends on reprising its success in its once and perhaps future home.

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