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HSBC unveils new global fund for SMEs

HONG KONG, December 8 – Global banking giant HSBC has set up a 5 billion US dollar fund to help small and medium sized businesses get access to credit during the global financial crisis, the bank said.

The fund represents money "over and above" what the London-based bank would normally lend in the current business environment, and will be funded from its own resources, HSBC said in a statement.

Such businesses in Britain will be able to apply for 1.47 billion dollars of the fund, while those in Hong Kong will have access to 500 million, the bank said.

The rest of the cash will support firms in other markets across the world.

"This is a difficult time for business in many economies," Michael Geoghegan, HSBC\’s Group CEO, said in the statement issued Sunday.

"Customers are rightly looking to see how banks can help. I am pleased that HSBC is using its financial strength to help our small business customers around the world by delivering this new 5 billion dollar fund.

"SMEs (small and medium enterprises) are the lifeblood of most economies and it is their success that will create economic growth."

HSBC has stressed throughout the global financial crisis that it is well capitalised and last month reported an increase in third quarter profits, despite a hefty exposure to the troubled United States housing market.

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