Barclays to eliminate 100 Asian jobs

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Cathy Chan and Fox Hu Hong Kong

Barclays would start eliminating 100 jobs across its Asia-Pacific investment banking and markets businesses this week, a person with knowledge of the matter said yesterday.

The reductions represented about 5 percent of the London-based firm’s investment bank workforce in the region, said the person, who asked not to be named because the cuts are not yet public. Barclays would also name Vanessa Koo to replace Edward King as Asia-Pacific head of mergers and acquisitions (M&As), the person said.

The downsizing comes after a series of senior departures from the bank, including Robert Morrice, the Asia-Pacific chairman and chief executive, who said last month that he was retiring.

Group chief executive Antony Jenkins revealed plans on May 8 to pare 7 000 investment banking jobs worldwide by 2016, as revenue from trading fixed income, currencies and commodities shrank.

“Job cuts in Asia will continue,” Louis Wong at Philip Capital Management said. “Banks in Asia are experiencing slower growth in emerging markets and cost-cutting is one major way to boost their return on equity, similar to what the global banks have done in mature markets.”

Barclays plans to cut 19 000 jobs over three years, including the 7 000 positions in investment banking announced last month and 12 000 that the lender said in February it would eliminate this year.

“We are not exiting any of the 11 countries we operate in across the region,” Timothy Cuffe, a bank spokesman in Hong Kong, said. “We will target growth in key areas of strength and scale.”

Wu Sheng would be appointed to lead Barclays’s Greater China coverage, the person said. Koo and Wu both declined to comment.

Besides Morrice, senior departures in recent weeks from Barclays included Johan Leven, the Asia-Pacific head of corporate finance, people with knowledge of the matter said last week. Helge Weiner-Trapness, the head of the Asia-Pacific financial institutions group, was also leaving, two people with knowledge of the matter said.

Matthew Ginsburg was stepping down as head of investment banking for the region, the bank said on May 15.

Barclays started M&A advisory operations in Asia in 2008 and began offering equity underwriting the following year. In 2010 it started building its investment banking and cash equities businesses.

Fees for underwriting equities and bonds, as well as advising on takeovers, shrank 23 percent for banks in the Asia-Pacific region from the beginning of 2011 through the end of last year, according to research firm Freeman.

Such fees rose 23 percent in the US in the same period and fell 6 percent in Europe, the data show. – Bloomberg


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