Global financial giant HSBC has imposed a pay and hiring freeze across its entire international operations for the duration of 2016, according to reports by Reuters and Alliance News.
HSBC, which is the largest bank in Europe and the largest company by market capitalisation listed on the London Stock Exchange, announced the policy in a staff email on Friday, Reuters said.
The move is understood to be part of a cost cutting drive intended to save the bank US$5bn in annual costs globally by 2017. In June last year, HSBC said this cost cutting drive would include a cut of nearly one in five jobs at the bank.
The market did not like the latest news, of a pay and hiring freeze, with the share price falling 1.85% in the first hour and a half of trading on Monday.
News of the pay and hiring freeze comes as the bank considers moving its headquarters from London to Asia. A decision on the move is expected imminently – as early as this week, according to Reuters.
Separately, Bloomberg has reported that HSBC “is reviewing its operations in Lebanon and may exit” that country, according to people it said had knowledge of the matter. HSBC is also planning to close its Indian private-banking business, people familiar with that move said in November, Bloomberg said.