London: HSBC said Wednesday it could axe up to 1,200 workers in Britain as Europe’s biggest bank reacts to the financial crisis.
“There are difficult decisions that have to be made as we adapt to a new environment and ensure we are well positioned for the future,” said HSBC managing director Paul Thurston.
“The operating environment for banks in the UK is extremely challenging and will remain so for some time,” he added.
HSBC, which employs 58,000 workers in Britain, said the plan to cut 2% of its workforce there would hit its IT and human resources operations.
HSBC is cutting staff and boosting its capital by £12.5 billion (€13.6 billion, $18.3 billion) to withstand the financial crisis.
The London-based bank outlined its plan for a record British rights issue earlier this month when it reported a 70% plunge in annual net profits.
HSBC, which enjoys solid growth in Asia, had been regarded as one of the more robust global banks as the crisis devastated many top lenders and has refused British government financial help in contrast to some of its rivals.
However its bad debts surged to almost $25 billion last year, mainly as a result of the collapse of the US subprime housing market.
HSBC recently said it was shutting most of its HFC and Beneficial branches in the United States, with the loss of 6,100 jobs. HSBC has meanwhile already shed 1,100 employees - including 500 in Britain - at its investment banking division since late 2008.
HSBC was one of the first banks to warn of problems with products linked to the subprime or high-risk US mortgage sector. Last September, it scrapped a $6billion deal to buy a major South Korean bank after the financial