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HSBC profits soar to pounds 11.5bn.

BANKING giant HSBC saw profits rise 5% to pounds n.48bn yesterday but counted the costs of increased bad debts in its US mortgages operation.

The bank has been hit by bad debt charges of pounds 5.49bn - a 35% hike on last year's pounds 4.O5bn provision for bad debts - after highlighting growing problems with US borrowers defaulting on mortgages.

Despite the US problems, HSBC's profit performance brings the combined pre-tax profits posted by the "big five" banks to pounds 37.3bn in the past two weeks.

HSBC chief executive Stephen Green said: "It is a testament to HSBC's strength and diversity that we grew pre-tax profits to EUR22bn, despite a major setback in part of our mortgages business in the United States."

In the UK, the bank boosted pre-tax profits by 13% to pounds i.87bn, with bad debts down 3% to pounds 79 6m.

The company's UK chief executive, Dyfrig John, said the bank had kept its bad debt levels flat despite a sharp increase in personal insolvencies.

The bank added it would look to Asia, the Middle East, Latin America and other emerging markets - which formed nearly half of the group's pre-tax profits in 2006 - to make up for slower US growth.

Last year saw another strong performance from HSBC in Wales, according to Chris Burgoyne, the bank's area director for the region.

"With 13 commercial centres spread across Wales and over 110 business managers working closely within business communities, HSBC has built further on the excellent results in 2005," he said.
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Title Annotation:Business
Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Article Type:Financial report
Date:Mar 6, 2007
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