HSBC accelerates shift from west to east with pivot to Asia
HSBC, Britain’s biggest bank, has set its sights on the Asia, doubling down on efforts in what is the banking giant’s most profitable region.
This comes as the banking giant published its Annual Results 2020, reporting a 34% plunge in profits for 2020, and simultaneously set out its future strategy, which focuses on delivering sustainable growth in Asia and strengthening its Middle East operations.
HSBC focusing on sustainable growth in Asia
Being marketed by HSBC as a “pivot to Asia”, the bank will be making big investments in the region, where it makes 95% of its profits, investing more than US$6 billion into reinforcing operations across Asia. This will mainly be focused on targeting wealth management, with a particular focus on Southeast Asian countries such as Singapore, China and Hong Kong.
In January, HSBC chairman Mark Tucker told the Asian Financial Forum conference that there were "real opportunities to grow our wealth business and expand across South Asia".
As part of this, HSBC has announced it is moving one of its top executives from London to Hong Kong, with Nuno Matos taking on the role of CEO of Wealth and Personal Banking. There is talk of Greg Guyett and Barry O’Byrne also heading to Hong Kong, as co-head of global banking and markets, and chief executive of global commercial banking, respectively, but this is yet to be confirmed.
Once confirmed, it would mean businesses responsible for 95% of the Bank’s net revenue (2019) would now be run out of Hong Kong.
Other senior HSBC moves announced
With Matos heading to Asia, HSBC has appointed Colin Bell as CEO of HSBC Europe and HSBC Bank plc. Colin has been Group Chief Compliance Officer for the past four years and has led the Group Transformation programme since early 2020.
And given the Group’s extensive heritage in the Middle East and its long-term growth potential, HSBC has appointed Stephen Moss as CEO, MENAT.
The announcement of these moves to Asia and the Middle East follows a recent and major executive reshuffle within the Bank, in which CFO Ewen Stevenson has taken control of the Group’s transformation programme.
Timeline: India takes unicorn leap with six in five days
We chart an historic week in India’s tech industry, where in just five days, between 5-9 April 2021, the country achieved six new unicorns, bringing India’s total to 10 in 2021 to date, an immense unicorn leap from just seven in 2020 and six in 2019.
April 5: Meesho
India’s first social commerce unicorn, Meesho raised US$300m from SoftBank, Facebook and Shunwei Capital, giving the Bangalore-based startup a US$2.1bn valuation, a threefold jump from its previous funding round in 2019. Founded in 2015 by two IIT-Delhi graduates, Meesho connects producers and resellers, helping small businesses sell through social media. It has 45m customers and has enabled 13m entrepreneurs to start their online businesses with no investment.
April 6: CRED
Founded just over two years ago, Bangalore-based credit card repayment app CRED raised US$215m from Falcon Edge Capital and Coatue, nearly trebling its valuation to US$2.2bn from its January US$80m round. Allowing customers to pay off their credit card debt while earning CRED coins which they cash in for rewards, CRED has grown rapidly during COVID-19, doubling its customer base to nearly 6 million in a year.
April 7: API Holdings / Groww
The first epharmacy startup to gain unicorn status, PharmEasy (API Holdings), which has digitised 60,000 brick and mortar pharmacies and 400 doctors across India, raised US$350m in a round led by Prosus Ventures. Founded by four former Flipkart employees as a way of making investing simple, investment platform Groww became India’s second-youngest fintech unicorn, raising US$83m in Series D funding led by Tiger Global, quadrupling its previous round in September.
April 8: ShareChat
New Delhi-grown social media startup ShareChat, founded in 2016 by Mohalla Tech raised US$502m from Lightspeed Ventures, Tiger Global, Twitter and Snap taking its raised total over six rounds to US$766m and pushing its valuation to US$2.1bn. The funding will be used to grow its user base and short video platform Moj, which launched in 2020 following TikTok’s ban in India. The regional language startup claims 280m users.
April 9: Gupshup
AI-led conversational message startup joined the unicorn club after raising US$100m from Tiger Global giving it a ten-fold valuation of US$1.4bn. The smart messaging platform, which has seen accelerated growth during the pandemic, was founded in Bangalore in 2005 by serial entrepreneur Beerud Sheth, whose online freelancing platform Elance is now listed. Gupshup’s API enables 100,000+ businesses to build messaging and conversation experiences across 30+ communication channels.