By Pamela Barbaglia
LONDON (Reuters) – Goldman Sachs is cutting almost 30% of its 300 investment banking jobs in Asia outside Japan in response to a slowdown in activity in the region, two sources familiar with the matter told Reuters.
The Wall Street bank is reducing the number of bankers working on mergers and acquisitions (M&A), and equity and debt capital markets deals, the sources said. It will be left with slightly more than 200 bankers across Asia.
Most of the jobs cuts are likely to take place in Hong Kong, Singapore and China, where Goldman’s main Asian offices are located, according to the sources, who said the process was underway.
A Goldman Sachs spokesman declined to comment.
The company, whose investment banking revenue fell 11% to $1.79 billion in the second quarter, has been hit by a lacklustre environment for deals across Asia.
The total value of M&A deals across the Asia-Pacific region has dropped to $572.9 billion so far this year, from $745.7 billion in the same period of 2015, according to Thomson Reuters data.
Goldman said in July it had embarked on a cost-cutting plan that would save $700 million a year in response to a “challenging backdrop” for revenue.
It still tops the Asia-Pacific M&A league tables but in the first half of the year it came third after JPMorgan and Citi as the biggest bank by revenue in Asia, according to data published on Friday by industry analytics firm Coalition.
One of the sources said no managing directors in Asia were in the running to be made partners this year while three existing partners in the region had been stripped of their titles.
Goldman and other big investment banks are grappling with a harsh environment after the region’s economies and markets failed to deliver sustained growth after the 2008 financial crisis. The banks’ business has also been eroded by local competitors.
In 2015 Goldman reduced the number of its investment bankers in Singapore – a hub for Southeast Asia – to about 35 from 50, several sources said.
There have been further departures this year, including its Southeast Asia chairman Tim Leissner.
Many of Goldman’s European rivals have announced plans to scale down their operations in Asia.
Barclays said in January that it would cut about 1,000 staff in its investment bank operations worldwide, with the bulk happening in Asia, while Societe Generale decided to close its equities research desk in India.
Other European banks including BNP Paribas and Deutsche Bank are expected to scale back operations in non-core Asian markets while last year Asia-focused Standard Chartered shut down its equities franchise.
Goldman employs just over 100 bankers in China, where it was one of the first foreign investment banks to start operations. But like other banks it has been hit by a drop in Chinese trading volumes and competition from local banks.
(Additional reporting by Saeed Azhar in Singapore and Sumeet Chatterjee in Hong Kong; Editing by Pravin Char)