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Awards for Excellence 2012: Best Emerging Markets Bank

HSBC’s more-focused emerging markets strategy should serve the global institution and capital-hungry borrowers well.

Awards for Excellence 2012

Best Emerging Markets Bank: HSBC

Also nominated: Citi and Standard Chartered

Over the past year, HSBC has embarked on a dramatic shift in strategy. The group’s 19th-century roots in Asia, widespread international presence and universal banking capabilities in growth markets have buttressed its top line in recent years, compensating for its faltering European and north American units.

And yet, over the past year, HSBC has exited or downsized retail banking in key competitive emerging markets, including Russia, Chile and Poland, to cut costs and help the group edge towards its return on equity target of 12% to 15%. This retreat flies in the face of HSBC’s perceived raison d’être. After all its former advertising catchphrase – "the world’s local bank" – was more than a handy marketing pitch to clients. HSBC has established a sophisticated multi-product international network, centred on locally capitalized business units, which typically boasted retail capabilities.

The strategic shift, under chief executive Stuart Gulliver, heralds HSBC’s conversion away from unbridled global expansion to a more nimble and targeted path to emerging markets growth – in favour of commercial and investment banking, in particular.

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