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StanChart to part ways with 3 senior Asia bankers: sources

Hong Kong

STANDARD Chartered is parting ways with three senior Asia-focused bankers and possibly with some mid- and junior-level bankers, as the British lender moves ahead on a plan to cut costs and revamp its industry coverage, two sources said.

The senior bankers include Hong Kong-based Toby Groser, who is the co-head of general industries group in Asia focusing on retail and consumer sectors, and Dominic Richards, head of Asia media and telecoms coverage, the people said.

Singapore-based Nikhil Nath, the other co-head of StanChart Asia general industries group, is also leaving the bank, said the people, who declined to be named as they were not authorised to speak to the media on the subject.

The exits come as Bill Winters, CEO of StanChart, which makes the bulk of its revenue in Asia, steps up a broader strategic overhaul at the bank to rein in costs and deliver better returns in the medium term.

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The bank's costs grew 7 per cent in the first half of this year versus a year ago, and the higher expenses from investments aimed at improving performance have been a concern for its shareholders.

The three coverage bankers, with expertise in a specific sector, were responsible for offering the clients corporate and investment banking services.

Mr Groser and Mr Nath joined StanChart in 2016, while Mr Richards came on board late last year.

The move is part of StanChart's drive to trim coverage focus in areas that are more heavily dominated by its US and some European rivals, and build on its strong client base in sectors including oil and gas as well as metals and mining, they said.

A Singapore-based spokeswoman for StanChart declined to comment on individual moves, but said the Asia, Africa and Middle East-focused bank was not shutting down coverage of any industrial sector.

"We have done a strategic review of our GIG (global industrial group) business and we retain dedicated sector banker coverage at a global scale for industries where we have the greatest impact for clients," she said in a statement.

The bank said in the statement relevant country and regional teams would continue to work closely with its clients in the retail and consumer, telecom and media, and industrial and auto sectors.

The three bankers did not immediately respond to Reuters' emailed requests for comment.

One of the people said a few mid- and junior-level Hong Kong and Singapore-based bankers from the consumer, and telecoms and media coverage teams would also be leaving over the next couple of months.

Reuters reported in February that StanChart was looking to drive returns by boosting lending to key industrial sectors and top clients, in a move that could cut about a dozen investment banking jobs.

Simon Cooper, StanChart's CEO of corporate and institutional banking, and global head of banking Paul Skelton have been driving those changes to accelerate its revenue growth. Both are former HSBC plc bankers and joined StanChart in 2016.

StanChart announced separately on Thursday the departure of Singapore-based Ananth Venkat, global head of global industries group, who the bank said was leaving to pursue interests in the technology start-up sector.

Steven Cranwell will assume Mr Venkat's role in addition to his responsibilities as global head of commercial real estate. REUTERS

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