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HSBC’s Gulliver says recovery in Europe should boost bank’s revenue in 2015

HSBC Holdings Plc Chief Executive Officer Stuart Gulliver said strengthening economic growth and rising interest rates should help bolster revenue in 2015 after Europe’s biggest bank reported weaker first-half profit Monday.

Pretax earnings at Europe’s largest bank dropped 12 percent to $12.3 billion from $14.1 billion a year earlier, according to a statement from London. That was the first decline in the period since 2009. Revenue fell 9.3 percent to $31.2 billion.

Gulliver has exited at least 68 businesses since taking over in 2011, as the bank invests in its most profitable markets amid increased regulation and compliance costs. An economic recovery in the U.K. means interest rates may rise as early as the fourth quarter, with “positive implications” for revenue, the CEO said.

“We expect improvement in revenue in 2015,” Gulliver told reporters on a conference call. “You should assume that any improvement would be lagged six months after rates go up.”

HSBC’s net interest margin declined to 1.95 percent in the first half from 2.17 percent a year earlier, reflecting lower yields on customer lending in North America and Europe, the bank said.

Gulliver, 55, singled out the U.K. economy as having a “firm recovery” and said the bank saw China expanding at a faster pace this year than previously projected. Pretax profit in Asia fell 15 percent to $7.89 billion in the first half, while Europe declined 18 percent to $2.26 billion. Earnings dropped 20 percent in Latin America to $374 million.

Pretax profit at the consumer banking and wealth management division fell 7 percent to $3.05 billion in the first half, while rising 15 percent at the commercial banking unit.