“The COVID-19 pandemic has presented significant challenges to the world economy and HSBC Bank Malta plc (“HSBC” or “Bank”) has not been spared from this unprecedented event. In view of the material impact on the Bank, we are downgrading our recommendation on the stock from a Buy to a Hold, with a reduced 1-year price target of €0.76.

The Bank’s loan book grew marginally in H1 2020, however our concern going forward is that if the COVID-19 situation is prolonged, individuals could postpone their demand for loans. Additionally, HSBC’s deposits continued to grow weighing on the net interest margin. The Bank’s performance has also been significantly impacted by its insurance segment, which reported material losses in the first 6-months, even though we saw a strong recovery in financial markets during Q2 2020.

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