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Banking Investment / March 4, 2020

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. is reducing the size of its investment-banking team in Singapore by about 30 percent compared with the start of the year, people with knowledge of the matter said.

Ruben Bhagobati, Goldman Sachs’s head of Southeast Asia mergers and acquisitions, and Singapore-based managing director Antoine Izard are among those departing the firm, according to the people. About 15 people are leaving or have left the investment-banking team in Singapore since the beginning of January, the people said, asking not to be identified discussing confidential information.

The reductions go beyond the normal annual culling of underperformers, one of the people said. Goldman Sachs joins Standard Chartered Plc, CIMB Group Holdings Bhd. and Nomura Holdings Inc. in cutting staff in Asia as tougher regulations and higher capital requirements put pressure on financial firms globally.

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Hsin Yue Yong, Goldman Sachs’s head of investment banking for Southeast Asia, decided to leave the firm by the end of February, according to an internal memo obtained by Bloomberg News last month. Tim Leissner, who relocated to Singapore last year to be Southeast Asia chairman, will work closely with Singapore-based partners Michael Smith and Dan Swift after Yong’s departure, the Feb. 9 memo shows.

Edward Naylor, a Hong Kong-based spokesman for Goldman Sachs, declined to comment. Bhagobati declined to comment in a mobile-phone text message, while Izard didn’t immediately respond to a phone call and e-mail seeking comment.

Deal Ranking

The bank is cutting staff in Southeast Asia after the value of equity deals in the region fell to $24.1 billion in 2014, from $36.6 billion a year earlier.

Goldman Sachs’s performance in Southeast Asia has lagged its position in the broader Asia Pacific, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. It ranked second among arrangers of equity, equity-linked and rights offerings in Asia Pacific last year, compared with 10th place for sales in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, the data show.

The New York-based firm was the second-busiest mergers and acquisitions adviser in Asia Pacific last year, while it ranked fifth in Southeast Asia, according to the Bloomberg-compiled data. Citigroup Inc. was the top-ranked adviser on Southeast Asian mergers and acquisitions in 2014, the data show.

CIMB, based in Kuala Lumpur, plans to cut about 50 equities-related jobs in Asia to trim costs, people familiar with the matter said last week. The move is part of a strategy to reduce investment-banking costs by about 30 percent this year in anticipation of slower growth.

Standard Chartered said in January that it was shutting its unprofitable institutional equities business globally, eliminating 200 jobs, mostly in Asia. Nomura, Japan’s largest brokerage, cut about 12 Asia equities jobs, a person with knowledge of the matter said last month.

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