Monday, 17 November 2008

Russian Banks Face Winter Freeze

Dow Jones International News

By Financial News reporters

17 November 2008

Just a year after they were engaged in a frantic war for the best talent, investment banks in Russia have started slashing hundreds of jobs and cutting pay.

Lay-offs at two of the country's largest domestic investment banks - Troika Dialog and Renaissance Capital - are approaching 1,000, and cuts will end up being substantially deeper than had previously been declared, according to bankers in Moscow.

Troika Dialog has begun cuts expected to total 500, or 35% of its overall staff, according to two bankers at the company. The bank was unavailable for comment. Renaissance Capital will cut 25% of its employees, according to an internal memo sent to staff, which represents about 375 of their overall staff of 1,500. However, bankers there said the figure will be higher.

A Rencap spokesman said nothing had been decided.

Elsewhere, there have also been 20 redundancies at mid-tier broker Trust Bank, according to a banker inside the company. VTB Bank is also cutting staff. Meanwhile, Ed Kaufmann, head of investment banking at Alfa-Bank, said the company was "trimming overall headcount" but is still hiring selectively.

Pay cuts are also in the pipeline. At Troika, those earning more than $3,000 (EUR2,357) a month have been told their pay will be slashed by 25%, according to one banker. Banking group Uralsib's staff have been told their salaries will be cut by 20%, while employees at broker Metropol earning more than $10,000 per month have been told their salaries will also be cut by 20%, according to staff at both companies.

Overseas banks that have piled into the market in the past year appear more resilient however. Merrill Lynch said it was not cutting staff in Moscow and UBS said it plans to increase staff.

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