Barclays Said to Start Cutting 100 Asia-Pacific Region Jobs

Jun 03, 2014 12:35 am ET

(Updates with fund manager’s comment in fourth paragraph.)

June 3 (Bloomberg) -- Barclays Plc, the U.K.’s second- biggest bank by assets, will start eliminating 100 jobs across its Asia-Pacific investment-banking and markets businesses this week, a person with knowledge of the matter said.

The reductions represent 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 aren’t public. Barclays will also name Vanessa Koo to replace Edward King as Asia-Pacific head of mergers and acquisitions, the person said.

The dismissals come after a series of senior departures from the bank including Robert Morrice, Asia-Pacific chairman and chief executive officer, who said last month he was retiring. CEO 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 shrinks.

“Job cuts in Asia will continue,” Louis Wong, a Hong Kong-based fund manager at Philip Capital Management, said by phone today. “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 matured 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 currently operate in throughout the region,” said Timothy Cuffe, a spokesman for the bank in Hong Kong. “We will target growth in key areas of strength and scale for the bank.”

Senior Departures

Wu Sheng will 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 include Johan Leven, the Asia-Pacific head of corporate finance, people with knowledge of the matter said last week. Helge Weiner-Trapness, head of the Asia-Pacific financial institutions group, is also leaving, two people with knowledge of the matter said.

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

Barclays started M&A advisory operations in Asia in 2008 and began offering equity underwriting the following year. It then started building its investment-banking franchise and cash equities business in 2010 as part of a global expansion following the acquisition of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc.’s U.S. operations.

Fees Shrink

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 2013, according to New York-based research firm Freeman & Co. Such fees rose 23 percent in the U.S. in the same period and fell 6 percent in Europe, the data show.

Globally, Barclays has been mired in scandals from interest-rate rigging to selling insurance that clients didn’t need. The bank is now cutting jobs, rebuilding relations with regulators and responding to shareholder pressure to curb bonuses.

Hugh “Skip” McGee also stepped down as CEO of the Americas division in April. Hans-Joerg Rudloff retired as investment-banking chairman in February, and Larry Wieseneck, co-head of securities, is leaving at the end of June.