Wednesday's Headlines: HSBC scaling way down by 2013

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HSBC plans to close offices and cut headcount in an effort to cut costs by as much as $3.5 billion over the next three years to improve profitability, which it said could be hurt by stricter financial regulation, according to BusinessWeek and DealBook.

One of the biggest European banks, HSBC said it would focus on commercial banking activities and wealth management, while scaling back its retail banking operations to the most-profitable countries. The London-based firm will cut "$1.38 billion of costs by 2013 through measures including simplifying 'regional structures,' consolidating data centers, shifting operations to cheaper cost locations, and reducing paperwork and layers of management. The bank had 295,061 employees worldwide at the end of 2010 compared with 315,520 at the end of 2007," BusinessWeek reported.

Other news:

The SEC hikes performance-fee thresholds. [Investment News]

BofA, JPMorgan Chase, and three other U.S. mortgage servicers, proposed paying $5 billion to settle a government probe of their foreclosure practices. [Bloomberg]

Goldman has received more subpoenas related to Abacus and other collateralized debt obligations made during the mortgage boom. [NY Times]

Automobile and home mortgage lender Ally Financial is in talks to buy ING's U.S. online banking business for as much as $10 billion in a sale. [New York Post]

Wells Fargo buys Foreign Currency Exchange Corporation's American assets, a unit of The Bank of Ireland.[WSJ]

AIG and the U.S. Treasury will sell $9 billion of the insurer's stock-a sum less than half of what had been considered. [Reuters]

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