HSBC mulls a new asset sale to lift returns

HSBC has begun talks about offloading its Mauritius retail banking and wealth management division as it continues to target better investor returns.

The bank is believed to have received three approaches for the arm, the origins of which go back to the middle of the nineteenth century.

Yesterday HSBC, Europe’s largest bank, confirmed it was in talks but declined to comment on any bids. The Mauritius division has a network of 11 branches and offices.

HSBC said it remained committed to the market there, where it would still invest in its commercial banking division.

The bank has begun a widespread asset-selling programme over the last year, as part of chief executive Stuart Gulliver’s plans to cut annual costs by $3.5bn (£2.2bn), focus more on fast-growing Asian markets and boost its overall profitability.

Earlier this month it agreed to sell its general insurance businesses to France’s AXA Group and Australia’s QBE Insurance Group for $914m in cash. HSBC also sold its majority stake in its Middle Eastern private equity arm last week and disposed of its banking operations in Costa Rica, El Salvador and Honduras for around $800m in January.