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HSBC U.S. card business to be rundown if buyer not found

Stuart Gulliver, HSBC CEO of corporate and investment banking, delivers a speech in 2006.

Claro Cortes/Reuters/Claro Cortes/Reuters

HSBC Holdings will run down its $33-billion U.S. credit card business if it cannot find a buyer as part of efforts to slash costs and cut back on retail banking, the bank's chief executive said on Monday.

CEO Stuart Gulliver said he was upbeat in the medium term on the economy in the U.S. but that the card business there did not make strategic sense.

"If we can't find a buyer we will put it into rundown," Gulliver told reporters on the sidelines of a World Economic Forum event in Jakarta, adding the review of the card business was still ongoing.

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Europe's largest bank said last month it aimed to slash up to $3.5-billion in costs and cut back in retail banking, to lift its return on equity. As part of this it is deciding whether to keep its U.S. card business, where its customer base is not linked to the rest of the group.

Gulliver said the relationship of U.S. card holders was often with a store rather than the bank itself. That meant the bank could not cross-sell as it could in other retail banking markets which it is still focusing on, including the UK, Hong Kong and emerging markets such as Indonesia.

"We need to change the shape of our business," Gulliver said.

Shares in HSBC rose 0.9 percent in London on Monday, outperforming a 0.3 percent rise on the FTSE 100 index.

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