British-based banking giant HSBC has announced it will sell 195 retail branches, primarily in upstate New York, to First Niagara Bank for an estimated $1 billion. "As part of its ongoing US strategic focus on commercial and corporate banking, HSBC Bank USA remains committed to serving and further developing corporate banking relationships in Upstate New York," the company said in a statement. "HSBC Bank USA is pleased to be working with First Niagara on this transaction, given its strong commitment to relationship banking and its historic roots in the region." As of May 31, the branches held approximately $15 billion in deposits. In addition to the sale of the retail branches to First Niagara, HSBC Bank USA has decided to consolidate some 13 branches located in Connecticut and New Jersey into nearby HSBC branches by the first quarter of 2012, subject to regulatory approval. Reports say the global banking giant is preparing to ax between 10,000 and 15,000 jobs in the coming year as part of a drastic cost-cutting drive. The bank, headquartered in London but with a major focus on Asia, was set to unveil the job cuts on Monday as it posts its half-year results, Britain's Sky News television reported, without citing its sources.