The Layoff Roundup

by Derek Loosvelt | January 25, 2008

At the end of 2007, investment banking CEOs began to feel the brunt of the subprime crisis, as several chiefs at top firms were shown the door. More recently, the lower men and women on org charts have started their involuntary exits. Although it's getting increasingly difficult to keep up with these firings, below is a summary of the recent banking layoff announcements that have covered headlines in recent weeks, and that have many on the Street asking, Could I be next?

Today, Goldman Sachs announced plans to cut approximately 5 percent of its 30,500-strong workforce in early 2008. The bank explained that workers will be fired based on their poor performance records. A spokesman for Goldman also said the cuts are related to its annual employee evaluations, adding that the firm is not facing a hiring freeze.

Morgan Stanley, meanwhile, recently said it will lay off approximately 2 percent of its 50,000-person firm. Its wealth management unit will be hardest hit, while its institutional securities group is likely to come out unscathed. The firm cited "market conditions, business priorities and individual performance" as reasons for the cuts.

Lehman Brothers announced this month that it plans to lay off approximately 140 workers in several of its fixed income groups, adding to the grand total of 1,300 planned layoffs (most of which will be in the mortgage lending group). The firm also said that three of its operational centers—in California, Florida and New Jersey—will close in 2008.

Although JPMorgan slashed a few hundred jobs in the fourth quarter of 2007, the firm actually ended up netting about 6,000 positions in 2007. And no job cut plans are on the horizon as of yet for 2008.

Likewise, Bear Stearns, the firm that's been at the center of much of the news about the subprime woes, enduring its share of recent financial anguish and speculation by analysts, has yet to announce any plans for future layoffs.

And Merrill Lunch, on the heels of a crushing net loss of $9.83 billion in the fourth quarter of 2007, has indicated that its layoffs would be minimal. New Merrill Lynch CEO John Thain said that although there would be some layoffs over the course of 2008, they "are not going to be significant."

Citigroup employees will not be as lucky. This month, Citi announced that its layoffs—previously expected to be in the 17,000 range—may ultimately number closer to 22,000. The firm, which employs about 320,000 workers, announced a $10 billion loss in the fourth quarter of 2007, a three-month period in which it cut approximately 4,200 jobs.

UBS recently went public with plans to overhaul its operations, which it said may involve additional job cuts throughout the year. In 2007, the bank cut 1,500 jobs, largely due to $14.2 billion in charges on its subprime mortgage holdings.

Following in the footsteps of other industry giants affected by subprime mortgage woes, Deutsche Bank announced that it plans to get rid of 70 workers within its corporate finance group in 2008. It also recently announced a plan to cut around 300 employees in its capital markets division.

Bank of America also announced major layoffs this month, saying it would cut about 650 jobs in its global investment banking and global markets businesses. This was the latest wave in a series of planned layoffs by the firm. In October 2007, BofA said it would slash about 3,000 jobs the firm deemed to be redundant. The bank said its London commodities desk would also be closing as part of its plan to continue "centralizing our commodities platform in the U.S.," according to a company spokeswoman.

Wachovia, meanwhile, will lay off 120 workers in one of its California mortgage offices and 243 in its San Antonio, Tex., office. The cuts may be partially due to the fact that the firm is facing the possibility of more write-downs related to its ongoing mortgage problems. But the firm's layoff problems might not be particularly widespread ones—it hired 1,300 people in California in 2007.

Finally, today, a rumor surfaced from inside Credit Suisse that approximately 20 percent of its fixed income group had received pink slips. A spokesman for the firm cited "market conditions and projected staffing levels required to meet client needs" as causes for the cuts. Analysts also cited the subprime mortgage meltdown that affected the entire industry as a major factor behind the layoffs. Although the firm hasn't made an official announcement regarding the layoffs, reports from inside Credit Suisse say a formal statement is imminent.

Filed Under: Finance


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