Goldman Sachs To Centralise Asian Business In Hong Kong

Singapore, March 26: | Updated: Mar 27 2002, 05:30am hrs
Goldman Sachs said on Tuesday it will centralise more of its Asian business in Hong Kong, amid talk it plans to cut its investment banking team in Singapore by as much as two-thirds. "In this challenging environment, we are centralising more of our Asean banking resources in Hong Kong, but Singapore remains a very important market," a Goldman spokesman said.

He said management of Goldman’s Indian business, previously overseen by the Singapore office, will move to Hong Kong.

Sources at rival banks in Singapore and Hong Kong said the talk is that Goldman will eventually cut its investment banking division in Singapore to as few as five people from about 15 currently, as merger and acquisition activity slows in the city-state. Some Goldman staff have been going for interviews with rival firms.

"I hear the cuts will be two-thirds of the team and it will not just be in Singapore but across Asia," said a senior banker in Singapore at a rival American firm.

"What has set Goldman apart from the rest is their M&A business. But that has just dried up, not only in Singapore but globally. If you have a big team, that is going to be a problem," he said.

Goldman employed almost 30 investment bankers in Singapore at its peak, following an expansion three years ago. The Goldman spokesman declined to comment on the number of people affected by the Hong Kong move or the size of the Singapore investment banking department.

The world’s top merger adviser recently reported a 32 per cent fall in first quarter profits and indicated Group headcount would be down by "mid-single digits" in percentage terms by the end of the year.

Goldman has been a major player in Singapore, advising Government linked companies such as

DBS Group, Singapore Telecommunications and SMRT Corp.