Major Australian lender NAB  shuts Hong Kong office

National Australia Bank (NAB), a major lender in the Asia-Pacific region, announced on Thursday its decision to pull out from Hong Kong, leaving Shanghai as its last operational base in China.

NAB is the second major Australian financial institution to be leaving the Chinese financial hub this year, following the exit in June of Westpac, which was fined by Hong Kong authorities for breaching anti-money-laundering and counter-terrorism rules.

The move is expected to impact about 50 jobs in Hong Kong, including staff in the treasury, finance, risk, legal and technology departments.

“A small number of corporate and institutional bankers” would also be affected, with some to be offered re-employment and relocation, NAB said.

The wind-down is expected to take approximately 18 months, according to Krista Baetens, a Singapore-based NAB executive.

“The decision was made following a thorough assessment of our strategy and reflects our ambition to align our corporate and institutional business with the greatest opportunities for NAB and our clients,” Baetens said in an emailed statement.

The decision will leave Shanghai as NAB’s last operational post in China, following its exit from Beijing last year.

Baetens said NAB would remain committed to Asia and its branches in Singapore, Tokyo and Shanghai would be its key customer outreach hubs in the region.

“These offices… have the capability to support the Hong Kong customer base,” she added.

Leading Australian lenders — including NAB, Westpac and the Commonwealth Bank of Australia — have been looking to cut up to 300 jobs each in recent months, according to the Australian Financial Review.

NAB’s share price increased more than one percent in Sydney trade on Thursday, closing at 29.31 Australian dollars (18.85 US dollars). –Agence France-Presse