HSBC share price recovers following €11 million sale of card business

After dropping back to its 2011 low of €2.50 during yesterday’s session, the share price of HSBC Bank Malta plc recovered by 3.2% today to regain the €2.58 level following the announcement that the Bank sold its card acquiring business for €11 million. Exactly 2 months ago, HSBC Malta had indicated that it is in discussions for the sale of the card acquiring operation.

In this morning’s announcement HSBC Malta stated that the card acquiring business was sold to HSBC Merchant Services Ltd (Global), a Maltese subsidiary of Global Payments Inc. Global Payments Inc. is listed on the New York Stock Exchange and is a leading provider of electronic transaction processing services. HSBC also explained that the new subsidiary will be its preferred strategic provider of card acquiring services. This sale falls in line with HSBC Malta’s strategic plan set out in May 2011 and the profit from the sale of this business will help partially offset the one-off costs related to the early retirement schemes.

Meanwhile, after maintaining the €2.50 level for the past three trading sessions, the share price of Bank of Valletta plc edged 0.4% higher to €2.51 on volumes of 8,577 shares. BOV’s equity will trade with the entitlement to the bonus share issue until Monday 9 January 2012.

The gains in the two largest capitalised companies helped the MSE Share Index advance by 1% to 3,087.037 points. The only other active equity was MaltaPost plc which held on to its recent gains and traded again at the €1.00 level.

On the bond market, the Rizzo Farrugia MGS Index again edged higher to 987.04 points on further gains in most of the Malta Government Stock prices quoted by Central Bank of Malta Stockbroker. The 5.20% MGS 2031 continued to trade at its all-time high of 103% during this morning’s session. The main highlight across the international bond markets was the Treasury Bill auction by the Italian Government. €9 billion 6-month bills were sold at an average rate of 3.25%, significantly below last month’s auction which took place at a high of 6.50%. The Italian government will tap the bond market again tomorrow when an auction of €8.5 billion will take place for bonds maturing in 2014, 2018, 2021 and 2022.