HSBC says quarterly profit dips, plans $2B share buyback

Global bank HSBC said Friday it’s launching its latest multibillion-dollar share buyback, as it released its first quarterly earnings report under its new chief executive, John Flint.

The bank said that the buyback of up to $2 billion in shares will “commence shortly” and is the only one it plans for 2018. It follows $5.5 billion worth of share repurchases HSBC has carried out in the previous two years.

London-based HSBC said pretax profit slipped 4 percent from a year ago to $4.8 billion as operating expenses for business investment and enhancing “digital capabilities” rose 13 percent, outpacing revenue, which grew 6 percent to $13.7 billion.

Net income came in at $3.1 billion, little changed from the previous year.

HSBC is Europe’s biggest bank, but earns most of its profits from Asia. Last year it completed a corporate overhaul to raise profitability by focusing more on high-growth Asian emerging markets while shedding businesses and workers in other countries.

Flint, who took over as CEO in February, said that HSBC is benefiting from interest rate hikes and economic growth, particularly in Asia.

He said that the bank’s “primary focus is to grow the businesses safely, and we have increased investment to deliver that aim.”