Feb. 18 (UPI) -- HSBC, Europe's largest bank by assets, said in an earnings call Tuesday it plans to restructure and eliminate 35,000 jobs after it saw profits decline by a third in 2019.
The bank reported a pre-tax profit of $13.3 billion -- well below the $19.8 billion forecast by analysts and 33 percent lower than the annual figure was in 2018.
HSBC said operating expenses increased 22 percent due partly to a goodwill impairment charge of $7.3 billion stemming from downward adjustments in "long-term economic growth rate assumptions" for its global and European markets. The charge also covered a planned "reshaping" of HSBC's global business sector.
The bank said plans to restructure will reduce staff to about 200,000 over the next three years.
HSBC Chairman Mark Tucker said the bank's three largest markets -- China, Hong Kong and Britain -- face "major challenges" that include an impact from the coronavirus outbreak.
The virus' spread has lowered expectations for growth in the Asian economy in 2020, Tucker added, with the main impact expected in the first quarter.
Britain's departure from the European Union last month, however, has been a positive and "provided some certainty," he said.
"Overall, we expect global growth to stabilize over the course of 2020, albeit at a slightly lower rate than in recent years," Tucker said. "This underlines the need to make the most of the opportunities ahead."