HSBC breaks ranks to reveal Merlin commitments

Bank’s half-yearly results show steady progress towards lending goals

HSBC has become the first high-street bank to reveal its specific lending targets under Project Merlin, the government-led initiative designed to boost small firms’ chances of securing finance.

In February, the banks agreed to make a total of £76bn available to small firms this year. HSBC has now disclosed that its share of the target is £11.7bn.

Furthermore, HSBC’s latest figures show that the bank is making steady progress towards its Merlin commitments. In the first six months of 2011, HSBC lent £5.6bn to small firms, only £0.25bn down on its pro rata half-yearly target.

None of the other high-street banks which signed up to the full Merlin compact – Lloyds, Barclays and RBS – have divulged their specific Merlin objectives since the agreement was signed six months ago. However Joe Garner, head of HSBC UK retail banking, said he now expects his counterparts to reveal their commitments.

Jacques-Emmanuel Blanchet, head of HSBC’s UK commercial banking operation, added: “The half year results highlight HSBC’s growing support for UK businesses of all sizes.

“However, the current environment remains challenging for many businesses and confidence remains somewhat fragile, with demand for lending lower than we would like and many customers looking to repay lending facilities or not full utilising existing credit lines.”


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