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Barclays Said to Plan 15% Job Cuts at Asian Investment Bank

Light trails made by passing automobiles move past the south tower at One Raffles Quay, which houses the offices of Barclays Plc in Singapore. Photographer: Munshi Ahmed/Bloomberg
Light trails made by passing automobiles move past the south tower at One Raffles Quay, which houses the offices of Barclays Plc in Singapore. Photographer: Munshi Ahmed/Bloomberg

Jan. 24 (Bloomberg) -- Barclays Plc, Britain’s second-largest bank, plans to eliminate at least 15 percent of its investment banking positions in Asia, two people with knowledge of the matter said.

About 70 jobs will be cut across the region, including in Japan, starting this week, the people said, asking not to be identified because they weren’t authorized to speak publicly. Angie Tang, a Hong Kong-based spokeswoman for the bank, declined to comment on the cuts.

Barclays follows Morgan Stanley in trimming jobs in Asia as an economic slowdown pares demand from companies for investment banking services. Barclays Chief Executive Officer Antony Jenkins, 51, who took charge in August after the firm was fined for manipulating Libor, is preparing to announce how he will revamp operations next month.

The cuts in Asia reflect the lower revenue being generated from traditional banking businesses including stock and bond underwriting and takeover advisory, one of the people said. Barclays doesn’t plan to exit any markets or product areas in the region, the person said.

Morgan Stanley is trimming about 55 to 60 investment banking jobs in the Asia-Pacific region excluding Japan, two people with knowledge of the matter said last week.

European Cuts

Barclays started eliminating some European investment banking jobs in December, people with knowledge of the matter said this week. The cuts may be 5 percent to 10 percent of the division, or about 2,000 employees, they said. The securities unit employs about 9,000 in the U.K. and about 24,000 globally.

The bank started mergers advisory operations in Asia in 2008 and began offering equity underwriting the next year.

It started offering a full suite of investment banking services in the Asia-Pacific region in 2010 after hiring Matthew Ginsburg from Morgan Stanley a year earlier. The 14-year veteran of the New York-based firm subsequently hired former colleagues including Ed King and Peter Ding, and ex-Goldman Sachs Group Inc. bankers including Johan Leven and Vanessa Koo.

Ginsburg, the Hong Kong-based head of investment banking for Asia, said in a 2011 interview that the firm is facing “very real competition” from Chinese securities firms as they are driving up hiring costs and spurring tighter competition for deals.

Barclays was ranked No. 20 in underwriting equity, equity-linked and rights offers in Asia last year, up from No. 29 in 2011, data compiled by Bloomberg show. Share sales in the region slumped to a four-year low in 2012, the data show.

Shrinking the investment bank would partly reverse former CEO Robert Diamond’s expansion into equities and mergers advisory in Asia and Europe following the acquisition of the North American operations of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. in 2008.

To contact the reporter on this story: Cathy Chan in Hong Kong at kchan14@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Chitra Somayaji at csomayaji@bloomberg.net

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