The London-based HSBC is delaying indefinitely the usual three-yearly review of where in the world to keep its head office, the chairman has said, as Britain's biggest bank reported a $1bn (£664m) loss in the UK.
Douglas Flint said uncertainty about global regulation meant it was "too early" to resume discussions that were due to have taken place last year about whether to keep the head office of the bank in London.
The bank reported 2012 profits of $20.6bn. When an accounting requirement that it disclose the cost of buying back its own debt was excluded, that showed underlying profits of $16.4bn, about three-quarters of which was generated in Hong Kong ($7.1bn) and the rest of Asia Pacific ($6.4bn).
The two most troublesome areas are the UK – hit by a $571m and a $2.3bn provision for customer redress, including payment protection insurance and swaps mis-selling – and the US, where the bank is trying to pull out of some domestic business lines, and made a $2.5bn loss.
Stuart Gulliver, chief executive of HSBC, who spends a third of his time in the UK, a third in Hong Kong and a third in the rest of the world, said the bank would be "reasonably patient" about the UK. "We make our money outside the UK," he said. Gulliver's £607,000 of "benefits", on top of his £1.2m salary in 2012, included the use of HSBC-owned accommodation in Hong Kong, where his predecessor had been based.
The countries producing the biggest profits after Hong Kong were Brazil ($1.1bn), Canada ($1bn), India ($809m) and France ($730m).
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