HSBC’s historic RMB transaction overshadowed by forex scandal at home

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Last week, HSBC cemented its position in Asia as a leader in cross-border RMB settlements – but things look less bright back in the UK, where the bank admitted to making an alarmingly small provision for FCA fines.

HSBC Holdings, which is currently being investigated over its role in the foreign exchange price fixing scandal, has put aside just £236m to cover potential fines. This is dramatically lower than the £400m expected, and pales in comparison to the £600m earmarked by JP Morgan and Citibank.

The revelation was ill-received by investors, with share prices falling by 1.7% this morning.

Meanwhile, on Thursday HSBC executed a landmark FX transaction for South Korea by settling a purchase of Chinese renminbi (RMB) against Korean won (KRW) by a Korean trading company. The payment was settled through Korea’s RMB clearing bank, the Bank of Communications in Seoul.

HSBC has a long history of settling cross-border RMB trade, having been the first foreign bank to do so, first in Hong Kong and then across a number of continents. It also arranged the first offshore RMB IPO and, in London, issued the first RMB bond outside China.

Peter Kim, HSBC’s head of markets for Korea, said: “We believe this landmark deal will contribute to accelerating the process of RMB internationalisation in Korea. We will give full support to this key initiative for the Korean government and will continue offering our RMB insight and expertise to all our clients in Korea so they can benefit from the globalisation of China’s currency.”

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