Barclays to close Asia cash equities; exit South Korea, Taiwan: Sources

Barclays to close Asia cash equities; exit South Korea, Taiwan: SourcesThe number of jobs to be lost in Asia as part of the cuts was not yet clear. Picture: A Barclays bank office is seen at Canary Wharf in London, Britain 19 May, 2015.Reuters file

Barclays will close its cash equities business across Asia and exit South Korea and Taiwan entirely, according to a memo seen by Reuters and a person with direct knowledge of the matter, as part of a global cost-cutting plan to boost profits.

The London-based lender will close its equity research, sales and trading and convertible bond trading businesses in Asia, the memo said, leaving the bank with equity derivatives and prime brokerage services in the region.

The number of jobs to be lost in Asia as part of the cuts was not yet clear, the source with direct knowledge of the plans said, but would likely be around 200 people. The source requested anonymity due to the sensitivity of the matter.

A spokesman for Barclays declined to comment.

The British bank’s latest cuts reflect the harsh environment for investment banks in Asia after the region’s economies and markets failed to deliver sustained growth following the 2008 financial crisis.

Reuters on 5 January reported the bank’s retreat from South Korea and Taiwan, as part of Chief Executive Jes Staley’s desire to trim in countries where the bank’s corporate relationships are weaker to focus on core centres, including Hong Kong.

Sources had told Reuters earlier this month that Staley saw the pace of restructuring at the lender as being too slow, and that further cuts would be required.

The bank pushed its bonus payments back to March, the sources said.

Barclay’s pullback from the stockbroking business in Asia forms part of a wider retreat by European banks, as global cost-cutting reaches peripheral businesses in a region where a drop in Chinese trading volumes and local competition have hit profits.

The pullback comes a year after rival British lender Standard Chartered also announced its exit from the Asian equities business.

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