Last week, Barclays PLC said it would cut approximately 1,000 investment banking jobs, primarily in Asia, and it would exit countries including Brazil, Russia, Taiwan and South Korea. This is part of the bank’s plan to refocus its investment banking activities on the U.S. and UK.
Barclays’ Restructuring Plans
In a memo to staff Tom King, Barclays’ global head of investment banking, explained that the firm was eliminating its cash equity research, sales and trading, and its convertible-bond trading businesses in Asia (see earlier article on this topic).
In addition, King said Barclays is pulling out of Australia, South Korea, Taiwan, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand, as well as shuttering its businesses in Brazil, Russia, Taiwan and South Korea. In concert, these moves are expected to lead to a loss of approximately 1,000 jobs across these centers.
The firm is also looking at plans to sell its Barclay’s Africa Group, the entity that houses most of the investment bank’s Africa business. Barclays is also looking to sell a range of assets in Europe. Mr. King outlined in his memo that the firm plans to continue its commitment to its two core markets – the UK and US.
A few years ago, Barclays developed a strategy to invest in Asia in an attempt to grow its investment banking business in that region. However, the firm was never able to attain scale in these markets. This led Barclays to shift gears in 2014 announcing that it planned to eliminate 7,000 positions around the globe over the next few years.
Ultimately, we believe the reason for this latest retrenchment announcement is reflected by the fact that Barclays’ 2015 investment banking revenue was essentially flat prompting management to try to refocus on its most profitable businesses.
The real question we have is how Barclays cuts in Asia, Africa, South America, and Eastern Europe will impact its investment banking business in its core markets. We also wonder whether these recently announced cuts are the last the bank will make? We doubt it.