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HSBC hunting Kredyt Bank

HSBC Holding’s intention to enter the country’s banking market is making waves on the international front, as the bank pursues what opponents say is a questionable acquisition. The Business Journal exclusively forecast HSBC’s interest in Poland last November.

As Europe’s largest bank, HSBC has reached an agreement to purchase global lender Household International, which various consumer advocate groups, such as New York-based Inner City Press (ICP), criticise as being a “predatory lender.”

Simultaneously, Household International has reached an accord to purchase Polski Kredyt Bank, which is a small part of Kredyt Bank. But Household, in effect, is just buying a banking licence in the country.

Both deals are pending regulatory approval, which if granted on both accounts, would bring HSBC into the country.

ICP has reason for its distrust of the deals. In the US, Household agreed to pay $484 million in a multistate settlement of charges that it targeted low-income consumers with secured high interest rate loans, which gave it claims to personal property.

But Martin Rutland, Household’s spokesman, said the company’s business model has always been different in Europe, and this would extend to Poland if the acquisitions went through.

Spokeswoman Karen Ng also said that HSBC has vetted the multibillion-dollar transaction with Household and is comfortable with the company’s market position, especially because it has already settled its legal entanglements.

(WBJ 13.i.03)

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