CIMB shares drop on investment banking review, pullout from Australia

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - Shares of Malaysia's CIMB Group Holdings Bhd fell 1.7 per cent in early trade after it said on Monday it would close its investment banking operations in Australia as part of a business review.

Malaysia's second largest bank by assets had just said on Friday it was reviewing investment banking operations in the Asia-Pacific region with an eye to cutting costs in the segment by 30 per cent this year.

"We would like to see more concrete results arising from the shift in business focus, management reshuffle and cost-cutting efforts prior to revising our outlook on the CIMB Group," Tan Ei Leen, an analyst with Kuala Lumpur-based Affin Hwang Investment Bank, wrote in a research note on Monday.

Affin maintained a 'sell' rating on CIMB, with an unchanged target price of RM5.00 per share.

Shares fell to RM5.70, against the benchmark stock index's 0.2 per cent rise.

CIMB said the decision would impact the majority of its 103 Australian staff, who will be offered redundancies, some redeployment opportunities and outplacement support.

CIMB entered the Australian market in 2012 and a year later scored a surprising mandate to advise Warrnambool Cheese and Butter Factory Co, which was a target in a three-way global takeover battle. That deal helped CIMB rank second in Australian equity capital markets during the final quarter of 2013, giving the company a 13.6 per cent market share for the period, according to Thomson Reuters data. The deal also put a shine on CIMB's credentials in a country where its investment banking ambitions were just taking shape.

In 2014, CIMB benefited from what was Australia's biggest year of initial public offer activity on record, raising US$494.3 million, the ninth most raised by an investment bank. It had no ranking in the previous year.