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Deutsche Bank begins Asia layoffs

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The German lender is expected to cut 18,000 jobs worldwide

FRANKFURT/SYDNEY/HONG KONG : Deutsche Bank laid off staff in Asia yesterday as it began cutting 18,000 jobs as part of a €7.4 billion (S$11.3 billion) "reinvention" set to tip Germany's largest lender into yet another annual loss.

In a retreat from a long-held ambition to make its struggling investment bank, which employs 38,000 people, a force on Wall Street, Deutsche Bank said on Sunday it would scrap its global equities operations and cut some in fixed income.

Chief executive Christian Sewing told journalists from the bank's London office, where many of the cuts are expected, that he was "doing nothing short of reinventing" Deutsche Bank, which will have been in the red for four out of the past five years as it dealt with a series of setbacks.

Deutsche Bank gave no geographic breakdown for the job cuts, although the bulk are expected in Europe and the United States.

Its investment banking team for the Asia-Pacific region numbered about 300 people before the cuts, and 10 per cent to 15 per cent will be laid off - almost all in its equity capital markets (ECM) division, according to a senior Asia banker with direct knowledge of the plans. The axe may fall harder in Hong Kong than Singapore, as the Republic is the investment bank's Asia-Pacific hub for fixed income and currencies business. Hong Kong is its Asia equities hub.

"The news is obviously depressing but at least there is some clarity on the businesses we are still going to focus on. My access card is working fine. So I am safe for now," said a banker in Singapore .

One Hong Kong-based equities trader who had been laid off said the mood was "pretty gloomy" as people were called individually to meetings.

"(There are a) couple of rounds of chats with HR and then they give you this packet and you are out of the building," the trader said.

Deutsche had some 4,700 staff in Sydney, Tokyo, Hong Kong and Singapore, factsheets showed on its website.

Deutsche Bank used to rank among the top 10 banks in league tables for ECM deals in Asia, but it had slipped in recent years, hitting 17th last year and 18th this year, Refinitiv data showed.

A Deutsche Bank spokesman would not comment on details but said the bank would be "as sensitive as possible implementing these changes".

Mr Sewing wrote in a note sent to staff on Sunday: "We are creating a bank that will be more profitable, leaner, more innovative and more resilient." - REUTERS, THE STRAITS TIMES