August 28, 2019 / 4:14 AM / 4 months ago

HSBC to offer some rebates, cut fees to support struggling small Hong Kong firms

HONG KONG, Aug 28 (Reuters) - HSBC said on Wednesday it would offer some help for small and medium-sized companies in Hong Kong, as the city’s economy struggles.

Hong Kong is on the verge of its first recession in a decade, weighed down by the prolonged U.S.-China trade war and months of anti-government protests that have spread across the territory, disrupting traffic, scaring away tourists and paralysing shopping areas.

HSBC said it would offer a six-month interest rate rebate on loans approved under official financing and loan guarantee schemes for small and medium enterprises (SMEs), subsidies for applications for the financing guarantee scheme, and reductions in transaction fees for businesses using HSBC’s mobile payment service.

SMEs account for over 98% of local enterprises and around 45% of total employment, Terence Chiu, HSBC’s head of commercial banking in Hong Kong, said in a statement.

“We have spent time listening to our customers and have heard their voices at this difficult time,” Chiu said. The statement did not not refer to the political protests directly.

The Hong Kong Retail Management Association, which represents more than 8,000 businesses, last week urged all landlords to halve rents for six months and warned if the situation continued “many retailers may have to sack staff”.

Reporting by Alun John; Editing by Kim Coghill

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