HSBC Europe's biggest bank, more woe for Lloyds

Looks like the cheesy ads about being 'the world's local bank' have paid off - HSBC now has assets topping £1.7 trillion, making it the largest in Europe.

by Michael Northcott
Last Updated: 30 Aug 2013

HSBC has stormed ahead in the banking rankings, as it is topping the league tables by two measures: total assets (it has €2.04trn) and market capitalisation (€147bn). That means it has sailed past France’s BNP Paribas, behind which it was third place as recently as 2011, and just ahead of Deutsche Bank (which has €2.02trn on the books).

Of the top ten largest banks in Europe, four hail from London, with Barlcays, RBS and Lloyds (more on them in a minute) making up the other three. Between them, they hold assets totalling about €6.64 trillion, which is three times of the size of the entire UK economy. Data provider SNL Financial, which produces an annual list of Europe’s largest financial institutions, compiled the table. It said that half the most valuable banks in Europe are British, only one is French, and strangely, not a single one is German. 

Anyway, onto Lloyds. Today it admitted that it failed to show due care when processing PPI mis-selling complaints from its customers. Apparently a Times reporter went undercover into one of the complaint handling offices and was ‘nudged’ to turn a blind eye to possible fraudulent behaviour by Lloyds sales staff, and also told that most customers would drop their complaint if it was rejected by the bank the first time around.

The bank was quick to trot out a line saying that it has had ‘concerns’ since February this year about some of its complaints handling centres, and that it is already in talks with the new Financial Conduct Authority.
As Robert Peston points out, it is amazing that the bank has taken so long to work out that this was going on and actually take steps to address it. But when you’ve already paid out £4.3bn in compensation to your customers and the case list is still getting longer, you might expect at least some bosses to look for ways to mitigate the payouts…

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