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"HSBC Holdings plc", originally incorporated in England and Wales, in the United Kingdom, as "Vernat Trading Company Limited" on 1 January 1959 and then renamed "Vernat Eastern Agencies Limited" later in the same year, into the parent holding company to the Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Limited now as a subsidiary, in preparation for its purchase of the UK-based Midland Bank and the impending transfer of sovereignty of Hong Kong to China.HSBC Holdings' acquisition of Midland Bank was completed in 1992 and gave HSBC a substantial market presence in the United Kingdom.

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In February 2015 the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists released information about the business conduct of HSBC under the title Swiss Leaks based on the 2007 hacked HSBC account records from whistleblower Hervé Falciani.

The ICIJ alleges that the bank profited from doing business with corrupt politicians, dictators, tax evaders, dealers of blood diamonds, arms dealers and other clients.

In 1980, HSBC acquired a 51% shareholding in US-based Marine Midland Bank, which it extended to full ownership in 1987.

On 6 October 1989, it was renamed by the Legislative Council, by an amendment to its governing ordinance originally made in 1929, "The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Limited", and became registered as a regulated bank with the then Banking Commissioner of the Government of Hong Kong.

When HM Treasury required all UK banks to increase their capital in October 2007, the group transferred £750 million to London within hours, and announced that it had just lent £4 billion to other UK banks.