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HSBC: right idea, wrong time for an Asian divorce

Thirty years of being headquartered in London is proving to be very disorienting for HSBC Holdings Plc.

Posterity will question the wisdom of the behemoth’s 1993 decision to move its headquarters from Hong Kong to the UK. Anyone who couldn’t see then that Asia would be the bank’s true profit center decades later — it generated 78% of pre-tax profit in 2022 — wasn’t paying attention.

But today’s tussle between HSBC and Shenzhen-based Ping An Insurance — its biggest shareholder — raises a question everyone knew was coming: whether HSBC is an Asian bank or a global one.

Ping An is pressuring HSBC CEO Noel Quinn to admit it’s the former and create a separately listed Asian business headquartered in Hong Kong.

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