This file photograph taken on 30 June 2009, shows the logo of international banking firm HSBC on display in the business district of La Defense, om the outskirts of Paris. HSBC announced a radical overhaul on 18 February 2020, including plans to slash 35,000 jobs and slim operations in the United States and Europe, after profits slid by a third last year. The Asia-focused lender has been trying to lower costs as it faces a multitude of uncertainties caused by the grinding US-China trade war, Britain's departure from the European Union and now the deadly new coronavirus in China. Photo: AFP
This file photograph taken on 30 June 2009, shows the logo of international banking firm HSBC on display in the business district of La Defense, om the outskirts of Paris. HSBC announced a radical overhaul on 18 February 2020, including plans to slash 35,000 jobs and slim operations in the United States and Europe, after profits slid by a third last year. The Asia-focused lender has been trying to lower costs as it faces a multitude of uncertainties caused by the grinding US-China trade war, Britain's departure from the European Union and now the deadly new coronavirus in China. Photo: AFP

HSBC on Tuesday vowed to accelerate its Asia pivot despite spiralling tensions between China and the West after it reported a 30 per cent plunge in profits for 2020 caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Reported profit after tax came in at $6.1 billion, which the bank blamed primarily on higher-than-expected credit losses and other bad debts.

Fourth-quarter profits were halved to $2.2 billion but beat estimates, helped by the lender keeping costs down as part of a major restructuring it has already embarked on.

The results came as HSBC published a new strategy laying out plans to speed up its attempt to seize more of the Asian market—the region of the world where the Europe’s largest lender makes most of its profits.

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The strategy will see the London-headquartered bank plough some $6 billion into shoring up operations across Asia, with a particular focus on targeting wealth management in the increasingly affluent region.

The bank made specific mention of markets in Southeast Asia such as Singapore, as well as China and Hong Kong.

“We plan to focus on and invest in the areas in which we are strongest,” CEO Noel Quinn said in a statement.

The global economic slowdown caused by the virus has hit financial giants hard.

But HSBC has a further headache—soaring geopolitical tensions via its status as a major business conduit between China and the West.

HSBC makes 90 per cent of its profit in Asia, with China and Hong Kong being the major drivers of growth.

As a result, it has found itself more vulnerable than most to the crossfire caused by the increasingly frayed relationship between China and western powers—especially after Beijing imposed a draconian security law on Hong Kong last year.

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