Net income at HSBC Americas Inc. rose in the fourth quarter by 32%, to $158.6 million, yielding a 29% return on average common equity.

HSBC, the U.S. banking unit of London-based HSBC Holdings PLC, reported that net income for the year was up 12%, to $527.1 million. It posted a 25% return on equity.

The bank attributed the strong results in part to a settlement with the U.S. Internal Revenue Service over Brazilian tax credits that were disallowed in the 1980s.

The settlement boosted pretax income by $22 million and reduced net taxes by $10 million. Excluding the Brazil settlement, net fourth quarter pretax income would have been up 6%, to $171 million.

U.S. assets grew 8%, to $33.9 billion, while lending rose 11%, to $24 billion, reflecting the acquisition of $1.7 billion in commercial loans from the U.S. branches of Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corp. by Marine Midland Bank.

Marine, a New York State regional banking institution with 375 offices, will change its name this year to HSBC Bank USA.

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