HSBC winding down Brunei business

National 2 minutes, 17 seconds

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

GLOBAL banking giant HSBC is winding down operations in Brunei after 69 years and will no longer take on any new accounts, facilities or business from today onwards.

“Following a strategic review, HSBC will be winding down its operations in Brunei, which comprise retail, commercial and global banking services,” HSBC said in a statement issued yesterday.

The London-based lender said the move is in line with its strategy to “optimise its global network and reduce complexity, outlined during the HSBC Investor Update on June 9, 2015”.

When asked if the bank has plans to put up its existing portfolio for sale, an HSBC spokesman said winding down was the “best option” to take as part of bank’s group strategy.

“This is not a reflection on the economic environment in Brunei. Obviously, with the decision to wind down operations, there needs to be a lot of due diligence and time dedicated to reaching this decision,” the spokesperson told The Brunei Times in a telephone interview.

The spokesperson said that the bank will not be creating new businesses and will continue to honour its obligations with customers.

But he can’t give a timeline as to when the bank will fully wind down operations in Brunei.

“We will be engaging with customers in due course eventually. Our priority here is to first inform the staff. We will move into the next phase of engaging with customers and clients in due course,” he said adding that HSBC Brunei has conducted face to face meetings at various locations in the country.

The HSBC statement said affected staff will be treated “fairly and in line with the (bank’s) values and statutory requirements”.

HSBC said it will contact customers over the coming months to give specific details and requirements with regards to their bank accounts and bank’s services.

For its part, Autoriti Monetari Brunei Darussalam (AMBD) said it is aware of HSBC Brunei’s “future strategic business plans” regarding its presence in the sultanate.

“AMBD is working closely with HSBC Brunei to ensure that there is minimal disruption to customers, staff, the financial sector and the economy of Brunei Darussalam,” the central bank said in a statement.

In March 2012, Bloomberg reported HSBC officials as saying the bank had no plans to exit any countries in Asia following a report by Financial Times which said the bank may sell or close some of its branches in the region.

HSBC Brunei assets stood at $3.5 billion as of December 31, 2015 in its latest financial report released last week.

According to its website, HSBC Brunei was established in 1947 and opened its first branch in the capital which was then known as Bandar Brunei.

The bank has nine branches in the country and nearly 500 employees.

The Brunei Times