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Stephen Green: How HSBC made it to the top

Of the few global banks to have survived without state assistance, HSBC is the best positioned in the most attractive emerging economies. Its global banking and markets business is thriving. Its rights issue confirmed it as a better credit than many governments, and deposits have flooded in. Regulators will force other banks to copy it. Best of all, it has admitted its mistakes. Peter Lee reports.

Euromoney Awards for Excellence 2009

Awards for Excellence 2009 Best bank

 Stephen Green, HSBC

NO ONE WHO was working for HSBC on Monday March 2 2009 is ever likely to forget it. This was the day when the bank finally bit the bullet on its wretched purchase of the Household consumer lending business in the US, when senior executives admitted they should never have done that deal back in 2002, took a $10.6 billion goodwill impairment charge against it, closed down the HFC and Beneficial businesses in the US and put them into run-off.

It was the day when the bank also announced $25 billion of loan impairment charges and other credit risk provisions for 2008. HSBC cut its dividend, announced the biggest ever sterling rights issue, to raise £12.5 billion of new capital from shareholders, and declared this fully underwritten deal would be priced at a 48% discount to the previous Friday’s close.

It was a discount the stock market immediately began to justify.

HSBC’s share price sank 20% that day and it was to lose another 15% a week later following a very large sell order in the last moments of the trading day in Hong Kong that was still being investigated by the market authorities there as this issue of Euromoney went to press.

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