HSBC to stay in Turkey

ISTANBUL (Reuters) – A top HSBC executive said on Saturday the London-based bank was committed to plans for expansion in Turkey despite a bomb attack which wrecked its Istanbul headquarters, killing at least 11 people. «We remain totally committed to Turkey, to our very substantial business here and to the many customers we have here,» said HSBC Bank Plc Chief Operating Officer Dyfrig John, who inspected the blast site and visited the wounded in hospital. «We are very concerned and we reassured the families last night that we will do anything necessary to help the staff in any way we can,» John told Reuters in an interview. An Istanbul spokesman for the bank said on Friday two members of staff had died in the explosion. Around 10 percent of its 400 staff at the building were wounded. The bank is still building its presence in Turkey, having bought Demirbank, the fifth-biggest Turkish private bank, in 2001 for $350 million, and store-card company Benkar in a deal worth $75 million. HSBC opened its first office in Turkey in 1990 and now has 156 branches, employing 3,500 staff. It resumed its services there on Friday, but one Istanbul branch remains closed, having been damaged in a simultaneous bomb attack directed at the British consulate in the city. «In the longer term, we are going to expand our business here,» John said. «We believe that with the various very significant investments we have made, Turkey is very important to us as a group.» The bank will assess the damage before deciding whether the building will remain its Istanbul headquarters.