As troubled global bank HSBC announced a swathe of job cuts Tuesday, thousands of people queued in the blazing sun in Hong Kong for its new commemorative banknote.
Crowds blocked major walkways in the city centre through the morning and into early afternoon as they waited to snap up the HKD150 notes, released to mark the bank’s 150th anniversary.
In one pick-up location a large pedestrian flyover connecting major office buildings was thronged, blocking irate morning commuters.
Those queueing had won a lottery organised by the bank allocating them one, three or 35 notes.
Each note cost HK$380 and depicted historic scenes of Hong Kong as well as the bank’s city offices.
Many sheltered under umbrellas as the sun beat down, saying they wanted the notes either as a collector’s item, or an investment.
“Everybody thinks that there is room for it to go up in price,” Esther Chan, a 30-year-old housewife, told AFP as she lined up in the central district of Wan Chai.
“I want one as a memento,” she said.
Margie Cosgrove, a 52-year-old housewife, hoped the value would rise.
“It’s worth it for the future… it’s purely for investment. Everyone comes out to make money in Hong Kong,” she said.
Around 60 traders were waiting nearby to buy the notes – one offered HKD650 for a single one.
But office workers were left unamused.
“I was late by at least 20 minutes this morning, it’s annoying,” said one woman from a nearby building.
Scandal-hit bank HSBC announced Tuesday a loss of 50,000 staff as part of a global restructuring that entails its withdrawal from Brazil and Turkey, while it also mulls abandoning London as its HQ.
In a statement to the Hong Kong stock exchange it said it intends to save USD5 billion (HKD39 billion) in annual costs within two years.
Image: Composite of graphics from HSBC