HSBC, Merck Announce Massive Job Cuts

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Europe's biggest bank, HSBC, announced Monday it will cut as many as 30,000 jobs worldwide by 2013.

The move is part of a new strategy by the company to cut back on retail operations in some parts of the world and focus instead on fast-growing emerging markets.

The bank will also sell 195 of its branches in upstate New York, almost half of its assets in the U.S., to First Niagara Bank.

HSBC, which reported a 3 percent increase in pretax profits to $11.5 billion in the six months to June, has already cut 5,000 jobs this year.

Bank spokesman Patrick Humphris said another 25,000 will be slashed by 2013. The bank currently employs around 296,000 people worldwide.

On Friday, Merck, the second largest U.S. pharmaceutical company, announced it was cutting 13,000 jobs.

Merck is making the cuts in preparation for next year, when it loses patent protection on some of its top-selling drugs.

Merck spokesman David Caouette told The Associated Press that 35 percent to 40 percent of the new job cuts will be in the U.S.

He couldn't provide details on those cuts or site closures, but said Merck will "continue to hire in high-growth areas like emerging markets."

Caouette noted Merck eliminated nearly 12,500 positions last year but only reduced total headcount by 6,000. The company had 91,000 employees at the end of July.

However, there was positive economic news from the auto industry.

A new survey shows auto executives will be doing more hiring as they ramp up production in 2012.

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