By Saeed Azhar, Sinead Cruise and Selena Li
NEW YORK/LONDON/HONG KONG (Reuters) -Goldman Sachs began laying off staff on Wednesday in a sweeping cost-cutting drive, with around a third of those affected coming from the investment banking and global markets division, a source familiar with the matter said.
The long-expected jobs cull at the Wall Street titan is expected to represent the biggest contraction in headcount since the financial crisis. It is likely to affect most of the bank's major divisions, with its investment banking arm facing the deepest cuts, a source told Reuters this month.
Just over 3,000 employees will be let go, the source, who could not be named, said on Monday. A separate source confirmed on Wednesday that cuts had started.
"We know this is a difficult time for people leaving the firm," a Goldman Sachs statement on Wednesday said.
"We're grateful for all our people’s contributions, and we're providing support to ease their transitions. Our focus now is to appropriately size the firm for the opportunities ahead of us in a challenging macroeconomic environment."
The cuts are part of broader reductions across the banking industry as a possible global recession looms. At least 5,000 people are in the process of being cut from various banks. In addition to the 3,000 from Goldman, Morgan Stanley has cut about 2% of its workforce, or 1,600 people, a source said last month while HSBC is shedding at least 200, sources previously said.
Last year was challenging across groups including credit, equities, and investment banking broadly, said Paul Sorbera, president of Wall Street recruitment firm Alliance Consulting. "Many didn't make budgets."
"It's just part of Wall Street," Sorbera said. "We're used to seeing layoffs."
The latest cuts will reduce about 6% of Goldman's headcount, which stood at 49,100 at the end of the third quarter.
The firm's headcount had added more than 10,000 jobs since the coronavirus pandemic as markets boomed.
The reductions come as U.S. banking giants are forecast to report lower profits this week. Goldman Sachs is expected to report a net profit of $2.16 billion in the fourth-quarter, according to a mean forecast by analysts on Refinitiv Eikon, down 45% from $3.94 billion net profit in the same period a year earlier.
Shares of Goldman Sachs have partially recovered from a 10% fall last year. The stock closed up 1.99% on Wednesday, up around 6% year-to-date.
LAYOFFS AROUND GLOBE
Goldman's layoffs began in Asia on Wednesday, where Goldman completed cutting back its private wealth management business and let go of 16 private banking staff across its Hong Kong, Singapore and China offices, a source with knowledge of the matter said.
About eight staff were also laid off in Goldman's research department in Hong Kong, the source added, with layoffs ongoing in the investment banking and other divisions.
At Goldman's central London hub, rainfall lessened the prospect of staff huddles. Several security personnel actively patrolled the building's entrance, but few people were entering or leaving the property. A glimpse into the bank’s recreational area just beyond its lobby showed a handful of staffers in deep conversation but few signs of drama. Wine bars and eateries local to the office were also short of post-lunch trade, in stark contrast to large-scale layoffs of the past when unlucky staffers would typically gather to console one another and plan their next career moves.
In New York, employees were seen streaming into headquarters during the morning rush.
Goldman's redundancy plans will be followed by a broader spending review of corporate travel and expenses, the Financial Times reported on Wednesday, as the U.S. bank counts the costs of a massive slowdown in corporate dealmaking and a slump in capital markets activity since the war in Ukraine.
The company is also cutting its annual bonus payments this year to reflect depressed market conditions, with payouts expected to fall about 40%.
(Reporting by Sinead Cruise and Iain Withers in London, Selena Li in Hong Kong, Scott Murdoch in Sydney and Saeed Azhar in New York; Editing by Josie Kao and Christopher Cushing)