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Barclays' cuts are bad news for Hong Kong ECM bankers

If you're a Hong Kong equity capital markets banker, yesterday's revelation that Barclays is parting company with Kelvin Teo, its head of APAC equity capital markets, should be the cause of some trepidation.

Barclays isn't commenting on the reason for Teo's departure. It's entirely possible that he has left of his own accord for somewhere like Deutsche Bank, maybe, but sources suggest he was cut as part of Barclays' Asian layoffs, which have also been impacting financial institutions group (FIG) bankers in Singapore. Wei Lynn Chen, Barclays' APAC head of sustainability investing went as part of the same process. 

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The exits of both Lynn Chen and Teo underscore Barclays' change of heart when it comes to Asia. Both joined in 2021 when Barclays was expanding in Asia as it built out the business under ex-Goldman Sachs banker Vanessa Koo. Earlier this year, the British bank was promising to keep “investing when people are scared.” Now it appears to be suffering some apprehension itself.

Teo's exit seems a particularly ominous portent, though. Figures from Dealogic show that APAC revenues in East Asia fell 23% year-on-year in the first nine months of 2023 and that issuance in the region was almost entirely managed by local banks. Dealogic puts APAC ex-Japan ECM revenues for JPMorgan and Goldman Sachs at just $86m and $83m, respectively. 

After years of expansion, feeble revenues are encouraging international banks to pull back. JPMorgan already parted company with its head of Asian ECM this year. Now Barclays has done the same. Which bank will be next? 

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AUTHORSarah Butcher Global Editor

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