| SINGAPORE/HONG KONG
SINGAPORE/HONG KONG Barclays (BARC.L) will announce investment banking job cuts across Asia next week, including closures in South Korea and Taiwan, sources with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters.
The British bank's latest cost cuts as part of its global restructuring will include corporate finance and advisory staff in South Korea and Taiwan, as well as equities sales and research staff among a total of at least 50 job losses throughout the region.
In common with other European lenders, Barclays is facing up to a harsh environment for investment banks in Asia after the region's economies and markets failed to deliver sustained growth after the 2008 financial crisis.
Reuters reported on Monday that Barclays will close its Indian equities business as part of the wider pullback in Asia.
"We are constantly monitoring our opportunities in different geographies and businesses over the cycle. If any firm decisions are made, we will provide an update," a Hong Kong-based Barclays' spokeswoman said in an email.
The latest job losses will include staff from countries in which the bank's business is not a leading player, the sources said, speaking on condition of anonymity given the sensitivity of the subject.
The closure of the Korean and Taiwan businesses reflect 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, the sources added.
One source said that Staley had told staff last month that the pace of restructuring had been too slow and the bank needed further job cuts.
The bank has pushed back staff bonus payments to March, two people said.
Barclays is not alone in reducing its exposure in the region, with Asia-focused Standard Chartered (STAN.L) announcing a year ago that it would close the equities franchise it had launched in November 2008 and rival Societe Generale (SOGN.PA) saying more recently that it would close its equities research desk in India.
Asia is expected to bear the brunt of cuts under Staley's three-year cost-reduction plan, which involves shedding 19,000 jobs, or about 14 percent of Barclays' global workforce, as he seeks to improve profitability.
Barclays is also weighing up the sale of its Asian private wealth business, for which Singapore's DBS Group Holdings (DBSM.SI) and Julius Baer BAER.VX are seen as potential bidders, sources told Reuters last month.
(Additional reporting by Sumeet Chatterjee in MUMBAI and Anjuli Davies in LONDON, editing by Rachel Armstrong, Louise Heavens and David Goodman)