StanChart to cut Singapore, Dubai jobs, say sources

Standard Chartered's job cuts are expected to include Singapore staff, according to people familiar with the matter. Bloomberg News had reported last week that the bank is pressing ahead to create two Asian hubs - one based in Singapore and another i
Standard Chartered's job cuts are expected to include Singapore staff, according to people familiar with the matter. Bloomberg News had reported last week that the bank is pressing ahead to create two Asian hubs - one based in Singapore and another in Hong Kong, quoting sources.ST FILE PHOTO

LONDON • Standard Chartered is cutting jobs in Dubai and key markets including Singapore as it looks to curb expenses, people familiar with the matter said.

Some senior roles are included in the cuts, the people said, asking not to be identified because the emerging-markets lender's strategy is not yet public. As many as 100 positions may be impacted in Dubai although the number has not been finalised, two of the people said.

The bank had around 86,000 staff at the end of June, up from about 84,000 in 2015.

The eliminations also include leadership at the firm's priority banking operations, which offer personalised wealth-management services, one of the people said.

The staff reduction is coming as Standard Chartered chief executive officer Bill Winters is looking for ways to reignite growth. The bank is weighing a plan to simplify its structure, reduce funding expenses and free up liquidity, people familiar with the matter said earlier this week.

A representative for Standard Chartered said the company has made "substantial progress in executing the transformation plan laid out in 2015" and will disclose its strategy for improving returns at its full-year results in February.

The lender is expected to unveil a strategic review to address investor concerns about rising expenses and an approximate 40 per cent decline in the share price since Mr Winters became CEO in June 2015.

Bloomberg News had reported last week that the bank is still pressing ahead to create two Asian hubs - one based in Singapore and another in Hong Kong, quoting sources.

Mr Winters said in October that the London-based lender was working on a three-year plan to improve performance. Its return on equity was 6.6 per cent as of the third quarter. The bank said earlier in the year that 8 per cent was achievable in the medium term.

Details of its plan are yet to be finalised as the lender is still waiting to hear from the Department of Justice over a potential fine related to previous Iranian sanctions imposed by the US. The bank has said that it continues to cooperate with the US authorities on resolving the Iran sanctions probe, and that it is too early to provision for any likely fine.

Bloomberg News earlier reported that the bank was bracing itself for a potential penalty of around US$1.5 billion (S$2 billion) for allowing customers to violate the sanctions. Any plan to reward shareholders with a buyback, which was reported by the Financial Times this month, is likely on hold until there is a settlement with US prosecutors, the people said.

Standard Chartered's underlying profit was US$1.07 billion in the third quarter, ahead of a consensus estimate of US$976 million, as the bank managed to squeeze out more growth from Asian markets.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 03, 2018, with the headline 'StanChart to cut Singapore, Dubai jobs, say sources'. Print Edition | Subscribe