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Last Updated: Monday, 6 March 2006, 09:36 GMT
HSBC bank unveils record profits
HSBC bank
HSBC has enjoyed another fruitful year
HSBC has unveiled the biggest profits ever by a UK High Street bank, making a pre-tax profit of 11.5bn($20.97bn) in 2005, aided by growth in new markets.

Much of the profit has been made abroad by the global bank, which operates in the UK, Europe, Asia and the Americas.

The news comes after HSBC's peers also recorded strong profits and amid claims from some economic and consumer groups that major banks make too much profit.

Less than one-fifth of HSBC's profits are made in the UK.

HSBC reports its profits in US dollars, which at today's conversion rate would be 11.91bn, however the bank takes the average exchange rate from over the year in reaching its sterling figure.

'Growth market'

HSBC, which has 110 million customers in 79 countries, was largely an Asian bank until it took over the UK's Midland Bank in 1992.

Analyst David Buick of Cantor Index said: "HSBC has an array of branches in Asia, Hong Kong, China, Brazil, and the US - which has probably been its main growth market over the past decade."

They look like a strong set of results
Richard Staite, SG Securities

He said banks now had their "best opportunity" to drive up their custom by offering mortgages and credit cards as well as customer accounts.

Last month Barclays reported record pre-tax profits of 5.28bn, up 15% on the year before. This was followed by Royal Bank of Scotland, which reported a 21% rise in annual pre-tax profits to nearly 8bn, and by Lloyds - up 4% to 3.47bn, and HBOS - up 17% to 4.8bn.

The UK's big five banks are expected to unveil combined profits of... more than the gross domestic product of Luxembourg

But think-tank New Economics Foundation claims the poorest 10% of people in the UK who do not have bank accounts are being ignored.

And consumer group Which? says that despite appearing to offer choice to customers this was not the reality, and that there was a high level of dissatisfaction with the big High Street names.

Pension worries

However HSBC, the world's third-biggest bank by market value said growth was led by its personal financial services unit, which provides savings accounts, mortgages and other services to more than 100 million personal customers.

"They look like a strong set of results," said Richard Staite at SG Securities. "One pleasing aspect is to see revenue growth steadily accelerating in the second half."

The bank said it had benefited from a strong US economy, a resilient UK economy, buoyant emerging markets, and recoveries in Japan and Germany.

It also said the near-term outlook was positive but there were long term uncertainties caused by "the unprecedented level of trade imbalances" and under-funded pension plans around the world.

See where HSBC has made its money this year

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