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HSBC of U.K. Says It May Sell Retail, Wealth Units in Mauritius

HSBC Holdings Plc, which operates the second-oldest bank in Mauritius, confirmed it’s discussing the sale of its consumer unit on the island.

HSBC is in talks “concerning a possible sale of its retail banking and wealth management business in Mauritius,” the lender said in a statement today. “These discussions are ongoing and may or may not lead to a transaction.”

The sale had lured domestic and foreign lenders, two people aware of the negotiations said on Jan. 19. The London-based bank will remain in Mauritius, it said, through its investment banking and commercial units. HSBC, Europe’s biggest bank, employed a total of 409 people on ths island at the end of last year and had 11 retail branches, according to the bank.

Chief Executive Officer Stuart Gulliver is partially reversing HSBC’s two-decade long expansion, selling assets and cutting jobs while reinvesting some of the proceeds in faster-growing markets. HSBC’s presence in the Indian Ocean island nation can be traced to 1859 when the Chartered Mercantile Bank of India, London and China established a branch in Port Louis, the capital, the country’s Mauritius Bankers Association Ltd. said in a report on its website.

Mauritius, an Indian Ocean island nation with a population of 1.3 million people, had 20 licensed lenders as at Feb. 29, according to the central bank’s website. The domestic retail market is led by Mauritius Commercial Bank and State Bank of Mauritius Ltd.

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