CIMB lays off 16 bankers in Asia

Investment banking and cash equity positions shed in Taiwan, Korea and India as the Malaysian bank continues to trim operations acquired from RBS.

CIMB Group has laid off another 16 investment banking and cash equities bankers in Taiwan, Korea, and India this week as the Malaysian bank continues to trim the Asian operations it acquired from Royal Bank of Scotland in 2012.

CIMB's Korean operations were the most affected with eight bankers gone, according to sources familiar with the matter. Another five and three posts were shed in India and Taiwan, respectively.

The cuts affected bankers at different levels of the business, according to one of the people familiar with the situation, and account for 15% of CIMB’s total workforce in the three countries.

“We have been continually assessing our investment banking and equities businesses and in the recent review, we have found it necessary to further realign and streamline our operational efficiencies in Taiwan, South Korea, and India,” CIMB Group chief executive Zafrul Aziz said in an emailed reply on Wednesday to FinanceAsia's request for comment on the job cuts.

"Slower regional economies and persistent market volatility continue to define the current economic climate. Similar to our industry peers, CIMB is not spared from these harsh realities,” Aziz said.

Optimal structure

The latest wave of job cuts show CIMB is still trying to find the optimal structure for its non-domestic operations as revenues decline and competition intensifies, rather signal a gradual withdrawal from some markets, according to the person familiar with the situation.

CIMB has been reducing its headcount in various jurisdictions since it purchased RBS’s Asia-Pacific franchise four years ago. In February last year the bank laid off 40 bankers in Hong Kong, Taiwan, India and Korea. That was followed by another 32 job cuts in Hong Kong earlier this year.

In 2013, CIMB had a total staff of 131 in Taiwan, India, and Korea. Since then the headcount has been slashed by 30% to 92, which is in line with the bank’s target for an overall 30% reduction in its Asia-Pacific investment banking and equities operating costs.

“Our decision to reduce headcount in the three countries, while difficult, was necessary to ensure we have the optimal structure in place that can efficiently weather the elements of the markets and yet continue to serve our clients in the best possible way,” Aziz said in his emailed statement.

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