HSBC warns UK government over bank levy

HSBC says its pre-tax profits for the year are well ahead of 2009, but it has warned UK and European regulators that there may be long-term consequences if they impose extra taxes on banks.

In its Q3 interim management statement today it did not give exact figures for its 2010 profits to date but it says pre-tax profits for Q3 2010 are well ahead of Q3 2009 figures.

But it is predicting a slowdown in the rate of recovery and says there is the likelihood of some bumps in the road ahead.

Michael Geoghegan, group chief executive at HSBC, says: “If the EU applies additional requirements to European firms operating in emerging markets, it would place those firms at a disadvantage to their regional competitors and to those based in North America.

“In the UK, a levy on the global balance sheets of UK-headquartered banks effectively places a tax on their emerging market growth and has a similar effect. Policymakers should therefore consider the likely long-term consequences of changes to the competitive landscape as they finalise legislation.”

In the UK, it says the economy continued to improve during the quarter although the level of activity remained depressed.

It says: “Confidence among households and businesses, and therefore appetite for credit, remained subdued while the impact of the government’s spending review remained uncertain.

“HSBC continued to build on its strong retail earnings base. As a result of targeted marketing, we increased market share of new mortgage lending on the previous quarter, while maintaining conservative LTV ratios.”