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Sun 22 Nov 2009 12:44 PM

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The Middle East’s 25 smartest banks-HSBC Middle East

The Middle East’s 25 smartest banks-HSBC Middle East

HSBC Middle East was forced to sharply boost its credit provisions in the first half of the year. The bank saw its first-half loan impairment charges and credit risk provisions jump to $391m from $41m a year earlier, but reported $643m in first half, pretax profit in August.

HSBC is the largest foreign bank operating in the UAE, and has 45 branches throughout the UAE, Oman, Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait, Jordan, Lebanon, Pakistan and the Palestinian Autonomous Area. In addition to the branch network, the bank maintains representative offices in Tehran, Iran and Tripoli, Libya.

This extensive regional coverage is strengthened by another member of the HSBC Group, HSBC Bank Egypt SAE, and by its associated companies: The Saudi British Bank; British Arab Commercial Bank Limited; HSBC Saudi Arabia Limited; SABB Securities Limited; SABB Takaful Co; and Dar Es Saalam Investment Bank.

In August, ratings agency Moody's downgraded HSBC Middle East, citing pressure on the lender's asset quality and profitability in the region, particularly in the UAE. The bank was one of the first in the country to tighten lending conditions for its retail banking operations as the economic crisis hit, and the risk of loan defaults increased.

And earlier this month, the lender announced it was cutting 122 positions in the country, after announcing 80 job cuts earlier in the year. However, chief executive Simon Cooper told

in October that while he expects the trend in non-performing loans to hold steady over the next six months, he believes the region is starting to recover from the global downturn.

"We will continue to see growth in revenues, and NPLs will be level," Cooper said. "The worst is over."

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