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HSBC chief cautious on growth

HSBC Chief Executive Michael Geoghegan is cautious about “growing too fast” because he fears a second economic downturn could force the bank to make write-downs, he said in an interview with the Financial Times.

Geoghegan told the FT he thought recovery would be W-shaped rather than V-shaped.

Geoghegan said that if he is right, “we have to be very careful we don't grow the balance sheet so far before the recovery has come, only to write it back into the impairment line later on. I'm cautious about growing too fast,” the FT quoted him as saying.

The FT said another senior executive told it that he expected HSBC to make medium-sized acquisitions a priority, with troubled banks' subsidiaries an area of interest. He highlighted “bits of Lloyds and Royal Bank of Scotland,” the FT said.