HSBC asked to drop U.S. banking division

March 2, 2008 at 4:40 PM

LONDON, March 2 (UPI) -- HSBC Chairman Stephen Green has been presented with four options by shareholder activist Knight Vinke, all aimed at dropping the U.S. banking business, HFC.

The Sunday Times of London said the four proposals come on the eve of the release of the international finance group's full-year results, which are expected to show a record profit of $24 billion.

Yet Vinke wants the world's top financial group to cut its ties with HFC, a U.S. banking group hit hard by the sub-prime mortgage crisis in the United States.

Among the shareholder's four proposals is an option for HSBC to simply end all involvement with the U.S. group, which would leave bondholders with an estimated $150 billion of debt.

The Times said such a tactic would likely free HSBC from any liability in regard to the bondholders, but could dramatically impact the international group's reputation.

Green has been vocal about his disappointment with his group's U.S. branch, which cost HSBC more than $11 billion this year, but the chairman has not implemented any precautionary measures to date.

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