HSBC, Europe's biggest bank, reported Monday a 70 per cent slump in annual net profits as bad debts surged to almost US$25 billion (Dh91.83bn), causing it to launch a record British rights issue. The British banking group said it planned to raise $17.8bn and would axe 6,100 jobs in the United States by shutting most of its HFC and Beneficial branches. HSBC said net profits tumbled to $5.728bn in 2008 compared to $19.133bn in 2007 as the global financial crisis took its toll.
"In this difficult environment, we missed our profitability targets," the HSBC chairman Stephen Green said in the group's earnings statement. "The coming twelve months will be difficult. We expect parts of Asia, the Middle East and Latin America to continue to outperform Western economies, but to be constrained by the global downturn." *AFP