HSBC in talks to sell Lebanese business to Blom Bank

Seeking to divest businesses as part of global plan to boost profitability

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HSBC Bank Middle East, a wholly-owned subsidiary of HSBC Holdings, said on Monday it was in discussions to sell its Lebanese business to Lebanon's Blom Bank.

There was no certainty about whether a binding transaction would result from the discussions but HSBC would make further disclosures if appropriate, it said in an emailed statement.

Blom Bank confirmed it has held talks with HSBC, according to Bloomberg.

HSBC has operations in the UAE, Egypt, Qatar, Oman, Bahrain, Kuwait and Algeria, in the MENA region.

HSBC has been seeking to divest businesses, including in Brazil to Turkey, as part of Chief Executive Stuart Gulliver’s plan to boost profitability and pay higher dividends to shareholders.

In Saudi Arabia, the bank holds a 40 per cent stake in Saudi British Bank and a 49 per cent share in HSBC Saudi Arabia. A planned sale of its unprofitable Turkish unit was scrapped earlier this year after the bank struggled to find a buyer, people with knowledge of the matter said in February.

HSBC has been in Lebanon since 1946 and has offices in Dora, Ras Beirut and St Georges Bay, according to its website. The bank employs around 200 people in Lebanon, and offers a full range of banking services to international retail and corporate clients.

Elhedery is MENA CEO

HSBC Middle East said on Tuesday it had appointed Georges Elhedery as its chief executive for the Middle East and North Africa region with immediate effect.

Elhedery, who joined the bank in 2005 and was previously head of global banking and markets in the MENA region, will also join the board of HSBC Bank Middle East as deputy chairman, the bank said in a statement. Elhedery's appointment is subject to regulatory approvals, it added.

He replaces Mohammad al-Tuwaijri, who in May joined the Saudi Arabian government as deputy minister of economy and planning.

The bank is expected to announce an appointment for the head of global banking and markets in the MENA region at a later date.

(With Reuters and Bloomberg)

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