HSBC to increase lending in South America

14 March 2007

HSBC is set to ramp up its lending in South America, according to the company's president in the region, Sandy Flockhart.

The bank, which is the largest in Europe by market value, has announced that it will target first-time borrowers and high-risk clients for loans and credit cards, with higher repayment rates to offset the risk.

News of HSBC's plans comes at a time when bad debts incurred from subprime loans saw its profit in North America cut by 87 per cent.

Mr Flockhart said: "There's been no loss of appetite for us doing banking for that segment of person at appropriate pricing and appropriate risk.

"We're tackling the blue-collar workers to provide them with services, whereas previously they purely worked in the informal economy and they worked with cash," he added.

The move towards offering loans to higher risk clients has been mirrored by domestic banks, such as Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria, targeting the sector as a source of growth.

Mr Flockhart also predicted that, excluding acquisitions, ten to 15 per cent of HSBC's profits will come from the South American market by 2015.

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