Morgan Stanley plans biggest round of China job cuts in years

The final size and timing of the cuts are subject to change, sources said. — Reuters

HONG KONG: Morgan Stanley plans to start cutting about 50 investment-banking jobs in the Asia-Pacific region this week, with at least 80% of the reductions in Hong Kong and China, people familiar with the matter say.

The planned cuts affect about 13% of the 400 bankers in the region, excluding Japan, one of the people said. More than 40 people in Hong Kong and mainland China are expected to lose their jobs in the coming round, the people said, asking not to be identified discussing private information.

The final size and timing of the cuts are subject to change, the people said. A media representative for the New York-based bank declined to comment.

The job cuts would be the deepest in years for Morgan Stanley in China, its biggest market in the region. The world’s second-biggest economy is struggling to find a firm footing due to a prolonged real estate crisis and persistent doubts over growth.

Morgan Stanley reported Tuesday that net revenue from Asia fell 12% to US$1.74bil in the first quarter from a year earlier, even as its global results topped forecasts.

The firm delayed the layoffs late last year, betting that historically low bonuses for dealmakers would spark voluntary departures, one of the people said.

Only a few bankers left, prompting the company to make deeper cuts as revenue from China continues to slide. The bank plans to start communicating with the affected employees this week, the people said.

Global financial firms are seeking to reduce expenses amid a deal drought, and have been cutting investment-banking staff in Asia amid deteriorating US-China relations, along with a crackdown on private enterprise and a property crisis.

Stock sales by Chinese firms in the United States and Hong Kong plummeted to a two-decade low of US$1.7bil in the first quarter, about 30% of the volume in the same period last year, and just 4.3% of the level seen in the 2021 peak, data compiled by Bloomberg show. — Bloomberg

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