HSBC eyes sale of its French retail business

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HSBC Holdings has kicked off the sale of its French retail operations, part of a push by interim Chief Executive Officer Noel Quinn to cut costs at Europe’s largest lender by assets, people with knowledge of the matter said.

The bank has sent out an overview of the business to potential buyers, the people said, asking not to be identified as the information is private. HSBC is gauging interest from possible suitors including rival French lenders La Banque Postale, Credit Agricole, Credit Mutuel, Milleis Banque and BNP Paribas, the people said.

It has also reached out to potential private-equity buyers including Apollo Global Management Inc. and Cerberus Capital Management LP, according to the people. HSBC is working with Lazard on the sale, the people said.

Any buyer would gain HSBC’s deposit base in France as well as about 230 retail branches. The move follows an exit by competitor Barclays, which sold its French retail and wealth management business in 2017 to private-equity firm AnaCap Financial Partners.

The process is at an early stage, and there’s no certainty on who will proceed to submit bids for the business, the people said. Representatives for Apollo, Banque Postale, BNP, Cerberus, Credit Agricole, HSBC and Milleis Banque declined to comment. Credit Mutuel and Lazard didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

HSBC’s planned sale of the French retail bank could take 4,000 to 8,000 workers off its payroll, a person with knowledge of the matter said in October. The lender is also planning to partially exit stock trading in other Western markets including Germany, U.S. and the U.K., Bloomberg News had reported.

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