Carson Block Is Wrong on Real Estate Outlook, HSBC’s Keefe Says – Yahoo Finance

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(Bloomberg) — HSBC Holdings Plc’s co-head of global banking Gerry Keefe has challenged short seller Carson Block’s call that the commercial real estate market has much further to fall.

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“You have to conclude that the bottom is behind us,” Keefe told Bloomberg Television’s Manus Cranny in an interview on Wednesday. “I usually think you find the bottom when you can’t find anyone to say anything good about an asset class and I think that was probably Q4 in CRE land.”

Asked about Block’s comments to Bloomberg TV earlier this month that the real estate market reminded him of the financial system in 2007, Keefe challenged his view. “Carson Block’s in the business of saying things like that,” he said.

“We’re comfortable with our CRE exposure,” said Keefe.

HSBC has slashed its US commercial real estate book in the last year. Full-year results in February showed a 27% year-on-year drop in the size of its US real estate exposure to $3.9 billion. HSBC Chief Executive Officer Noel Quinn said at the time that the bank had been “progressively de-risking” its portfolio.

Golden Age

Keefe had an optimistic outlook for infrastructure and said global project finance was enjoying a boom with large pools of capital in Asia and the Middle East looking for investments. “We believe we’re entering a golden age for project infrastructure finance,” he said.

The buoyant markets could lead to more hires and Keefe said HSBC “had needs” for more staff. This followed comments in an interview last week by his boss, Greg Guyett, global head of banking and markets at HSBC, who said the company could hire around 200 bankers to boost its ranks.

“It’s basically go-time in the markets here [in the US],” said Keefe. “In the rest of the world the story is a little bit more complicated. The Middle East is probably the only place in the world right now where you’re seeing announcements of $40 billion funds to invest in AI. That’s probably the most important pool of capital.”

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