Barclays Pulls the Plug on its Asian Cash Equities Business

Barclays is closing the doors on several components of its Asian business, including its cash equities, research, sales, trading units.

Barclays has announced the scaling back of its operations in Asia, namely with regards to its cash equities business that has seen waning profit margins in recent years. In doing so, the lender becomes the latest bank to jump ship from a market that has been largely winnowed following heightened competition and growing costs.

Consequently, Barclays reported that it is closing the doors on several components of its Asian business, including its cash equities unit, research, sales, trading, and convertible bond trading business. Furthermore, the bank also revealed that it is planning to jettison its investment banking operations across Australia, Taiwan, South Korea, and Malaysia.

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The news is the first major revelation to afflict the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region in 2016, with the vast majority of operational shifts taking place in the UK and Europe. Q4 2015 saw massive outflows of jobs and personnel from many leading banks including Standard Chartered and Deutsche Bank, portending thousands of job layoffs within the next few years.

While not on the scale of the London cuts, Barclays is slated to cut around 230 jobs in Asia as part of a global restructuring strategy, which will result in around 1,000 redundancies.

It will be interesting to trace the trajectory of the fallout, which could result in lost business gravitating towards other large brokers in the region such as Goldman Sachs, Credit Suisse, and UBS. Other banks may follow suit, as the region has proven to be quite unprofitable as of late, as reflected in Q4 2015 earnings reports.

According to Tom King, Barclays’ Global Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of investment banking, in a memo to staff: “We are sharpening our focus on the geographies and products where we have a clear competitive advantage, with a physical presence only in China, Hong Kong, India, Japan, and Singapore.”

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