HSBC profits up fivefold on Asia

"Our pivot to Asia is driving higher returns and lending growth, particularly in Hong Kong", said group chief executive Stuart Gulliver, in a statement to the Hong Kong and London stock exchanges.

At the same time, reported quarterly profit before tax at $4.6bn was up some $3.8bn compared with the same period past year, reflecting the net favourable effects of significant items such as disposals and the impact from its own credit spread.

Shares were up 0.7 percent at HK$77.65 ($9.95) in early afternoon trading.

The results highlighted the hard path HSBC is walking between cost cutting and growth, as it seeks to increase income again following a period of wider restructuring after the 2008 global financial crisis.

This month, new Chairman Mark Tucker, the first outsider to hold the job, named veteran banker and company insider John Flint to replace Gulliver as CEO in February.

Analysts said the third-quarter numbers were better than expected.

"We maintained good momentum in the third quarter, with higher revenue in our three main global businesses".

Adjusted profit before tax was $5.44 billion, compared to $5.52 billion previous year.

HSBC has been selling off assets since 2015, and the profit numbers reported this morning take account of a loss of more than £1.2bn on the disposal of some of the group's South American assets.

An HSBC bank call centre is seen at night floodlit in rainbow colours for Malta Gay Pride Week in Swatar, Malta, September 7, 2017.

John Flint, now head of retail banking and wealth management, will take over as CEO from Stuart Gulliver in February, and has said he wants to "accelerate the pace of change". The bank has also reaped the benefits of a greater focus on Asia. The group reported a common equity tier 1 ('CET1') ratio, however, declined marginally to 14.6 percent, down from 14.7 percent.

Adjusted for these, pre-tax profit fell by one percent year-on-year in the July-September period, HSBC said. Some of its European rivals such as Barclays saw the same business fall by more than 20 percent in the period.

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