Exclusive: StanChart axes senior bankers in energy M&A team - sources

Tue Dec 15, 2015 2:13am EST
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By Denny Thomas and Saeed Azhar

HONG KONG/SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Standard Chartered plc (STAN.L: Quote) has axed at least half a dozen oil and gas advisory banking roles in recent weeks, ending an eight-year attempt to build a global energy M&A team as new CEO Bill Winters moves to rein in costs, people familiar with the matter said.

Asia-focused lender Standard Chartered (2888.HK: Quote) expanded its energy M&A advisory team just before the global financial crisis by acquiring Harrison Lovegrove, a well regarded boutique advisory firm for oil and gas. At that time, more than two dozen bankers came over to Standard Chartered from Harrison Lovegrove. But Winters, who is cutting 15,000 jobs globally to restore profitability, is getting rid of expensive specialized bankers and taking a step to reduce the bank's global ambitions in the M&A space.

The senior managing directors to leave the bank include the London-based head of the energy M&A team, three people aware of the situation said. The sources declined to be identified.

Four Singapore-based managing directors in the team were also let go, the sources added, including one, who was an expert on energy and power financing, in July. Some less senior bankers were also axed.

E-mails sent to the bankers went unanswered. A Standard Chartered spokeswoman declined comment on the departures.

The downsized team is now led by Alok Sinha and most of its members are based in Singapore, the sources said.

The bank wants to move away from depending on advisory fees, and rely more on revenues generated by selling forex hedging products used in M&A transactions, the sources said.

"The model of pure advice doesn't fit with Standard Chartered's new scheme of things. It's an expensive proposition," one person familiar with the development said.   Continued...

A man walks past the head office of Standard Chartered bank in the City of London February 27, 2015. REUTERS/Eddie Keogh