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S’pore job cuts at ANZ leave employees uncertain about future

SINGAPORE — Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ANZ) has laid off up to 50 staff in various departments in the Republic from February this year in efforts to cut costs, TODAY understands.

According to a source who was ­retrenched a few weeks ago, the dozens of ANZ employees affected were from the wealth management, business banking and marketing departments in the Singapore unit. Photo: Reuters

According to a source who was ­retrenched a few weeks ago, the dozens of ANZ employees affected were from the wealth management, business banking and marketing departments in the Singapore unit. Photo: Reuters

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SINGAPORE — Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ANZ) has laid off up to 50 staff in various departments in the Republic from February this year in efforts to cut costs, TODAY understands.

According to a source who was retrenched a few weeks ago, the dozens of employees affected were from the wealth management, business banking and marketing departments in the Singapore unit. The source was from the retail banking segment and had been with the bank for a couple of years. Not given an explanation when given the slip, the source is now looking for a new job.

Others from the bank said that they were given a briefing late last week by the management.

“There have been cuts across the board,” said a relationship manager with the bank who did not wish to be named. “The briefing was on the merging of the private side of the bank with the entire bank and this might lead to the redundancies. The briefing was to inform us and keep us in the loop because since a few weeks ago, rumours were all over the place that our jobs were on the line. Right now it looks like business is as usual ...

“Going forward, I expect that I will have to probably do two persons’ jobs, handle more things due to this … Cutting costs is common in an economic downturn,” he added.

Another source who works at the backend operations said: “This could be the time of the year where the bank decides to lay the axe. I just go to work looking at it on a day-by-day basis, not knowing if this will be the day it will happen to me.”

The bank’s website states that ANZ Singapore employs about 2,200 people, with four retail branches.

“Like our industry peers, we continually review our business to ensure our products and services align with the needs of our customers, and allocate resources to reflect the opportunities and market environment,” said an ANZ spokesperson, adding that the bank remains committed to the Singapore market, which is a key business hub for ANZ in Asia.

Several global banks are cutting back or leaving capital-intensive businesses as they come under increasing regulatory pressures to have a greater capital buffer against non-performing loans during the current weak economic conditions.

Last month, ANZ said it had cut 200 Australian jobs in Melbourne due to “subdued economic conditions, low lending growth and the need to simplify their business and improve productivity”.

Earlier in March, ANZ announced it had closed its business lending to small- and mid-sized enterprises in five Asian countries (including Singapore), cutting about 100 jobs, in a sign its new CEO, Mr Shayne Elliott, is reducing presence in the region. ANZ has exited what it dubs its “emerging corporate” business in Singapore.

And last week, it was reported to be exploring plans to sell part or all of its life insurance and pension product development unit, valued at up to US$4 billion (S$5.5 billion), in line with its broader strategy of raising funds to boost capital.

On Friday, Fitch Ratings said that ANZ appears to be the riskiest of the big four banks in Australia. “ANZ appears to take more risks relative to domestic peers, as reflected in its larger portion of exposure to corporates, Asia and broker-originated mortgages, while maintaining faster mortgage growth,” said Fitch.

ANZ posted a 24 per cent fall in cash profit to A$2.8 billion (S$2.79 billion) for the six months to March and cut its interim dividend by 7 per cent to 80 Australian cents a share.

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