British banking group HSBC has begun the process of divesting its French retail business, reported Bloomberg.

The move is said to be part of a broader strategy under CEO Noel Quinn to reap cost savings. HSBC has tapped investment bank Lazard for the sale.

HSBC has sent out the French unit’s overview to interested parties.

According to sources, HSBC expects possible interest from BNP Paribas, Credit Agricole, Credit Mutuel, La Banque Postale, and Milleis Banque.

However, none of the parties responded to the issue. According to the Bloomberg report, the sale process is still at an early stage.

HSBC has also approached private equity firms Apollo Global Management and Cerberus Capital Management for the sale, sources suggest.

Notably, in 2017, Barclays sold its French retail operations to private equity firm AnaCap Financial Partners.

The HSBC divestiture, if materialised, would offer the acquirer access to nearly 230 retail branches and the France deposit base of HSBC.

The move would reportedly affect 4,000 to 8,000 employees.

HSBC has been aggressively downsizing operations in various parts of the globe in a bid to cut costs.

In October 2019, it was reported that the bank will slash up to 10,000 employees globally. The plan is said to focus on high-paid roles.

In the same month, HSBC unveiled plans to shutter eight of its branches in Malta.

In 2017, HSBC offloaded its Lebanon operations to Lebanese lender BLOM BANK.