Citigroup Dismisses Analysts Globally Amid Cuts to Trading Unit

(Bloomberg) -- Citigroup Inc. has dismissed a large number of its research analysts in recent weeks, people with knowledge of the matter said, as plummeting commissions and new rules imperil jobs across the industry.

Dalibor Vavruska, a London-based telecoms research managing director, was among the longer-term employees dismissed, according to the people, who asked not to be identified because the matter is private. Frontier markets strategist Andrew Howell in New York as well as the bank’s San Francisco-based chief Asian strategist also lost their jobs, the people said.

Ronald Smith and Barry Ehrlich, the last two equity analysts in Citigroup’s dwindling Moscow office, and several senior Latin American experts were cut as well, the people said. Heath Jansen, the Dubai-based head of metals and mining research, also left as a “double digit” percentage of research analysts lost their posts, the people said. The employees either declined to comment or didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

“In line with current market conditions, we made targeted headcount reductions in our front office,” Citigroup spokeswoman Danielle Romero-Apsilos said by email. “We continue to grow and add talent strategically across the company and continue to make investments against our business priorities.”

Citigroup is in the midst of dismissing about 400 people from its trading division, which includes equities research and strategy. Lenders including Deutsche Bank AG and Barclays Plc are also slashing costs in equities following a tough start to the year. Last month, Citigroup moved to disband its U.S. high-yield debt research team.

Research departments have been hit hard by a decade-long decline in equity trade commissions, which dropped by nearly 50% in 2018 from their peak in 2009, Greenwich Associates estimates. The industry has also struggled to adapt to MiFID II, European Union rules implemented last year that force investors to pay separately for analysis, rather than bundling the cost of research together with trading commissions.

The changes at Citigroup come as ValueAct Capital Management, which owns more than 1% of the bank, has become more involved in the New York bank’s decision making, signing an agreement in January that allows the hedge fund to see confidential information about strategy, governance and planning.

Citigroup’s share price has lagged behind its two biggest U.S. competitors, JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Bank of America Corp., as it struggled to improve its efficiency ratio, a measure of how much it costs to produce a dollar of revenue. Its equities unit doesn’t match its heft in commercial or retail banking, and currently ranks sixth globally.

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

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