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HSBC Holdings' Asia business helped bolster its profit in the first half although the group's overall profit plummeted by 57 percent amid a sagging economy, the bank said Monday in its 2009 interim result statement.

HSBC, Europe's largest bank by market value, generated most of its income from its home business, with the Europe business accounting for 59 percent of combined profits. The result marks a 9-percent growth from a year earlier.

The group's business from Asia, however, recorded double-digit growth as it continued to be the leading foreign bank on the Chinese mainland.

Its profit from the Hong Kong business registered a 20 percent increase to $2.5 billion, accounting for almost 50 percent of its global income, while income from other Asia-Pacific regions (excluding Hong Kong) surged by 15.7 percent to $2 billion from a year earlier.

"The market value of our three-largest strategic investments on the Chinese mainland has grown significantly since we acquired them, and increased by $8.2 billion during the first half of 2009," said Vincent Cheng, the company's chairman.

HSBC expanded into the mainland market by purchasing stakes in local firms, including 19 percent of Bank of Communications, 8 percent of Bank of Shanghai, 16.8 percent of Ping An Insurance and 12.8 percent of Industrial Bank via its subsidiary Hang Seng Bank.

HSBC, which has the largest investment and branch network of any international bank on the Chinese mainland, has stepped up its expansion in the emerging market.

HSBC is also planning to list on the Shanghai Stock Exchange to raise at least $3 billion as early as the first half of 2010.

(China Daily August 4, 2009)

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