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HSBC Eyes US Acquisitions Amid Subprime Woes

HSBC Holdings, Europe's largest lender, may make acquisitions in the United States and has no plans to pull out of that market despite the subprime mortgage woes, a newspaper reported
on Wednesday.

"We may consider acquiring banks linked to Spanish and Asian communities," the South China Morning Post quoted the lender's chief executive, Michael Geoghegan, as saying. "This will not be a large regional bank."

Geoghegan said the lender would continue to pursue the consumer finance business in the U.S. and expand its portfolio, and would also increase investment in fast-growing, emerging markets in Asia and Latin America.

HSBC had taken measures to address the subprime problem by way of business restructuring, tightening mortgage underwriting criteria, and reducing assets through sales and write downs, he added.

The British bank had injected $960 million of capital into its U.S. consumer finance unit HSBC Finance, which is exposed heavily to the subprime lending business, in the fourth quarter and $1.6 billion in the first quarter, the newspaper said.

Major western banks have written down tens of billions of dollars of losses due to subprime mortgage-related business.

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