MF Global fires brokerage staff en masse

Fri Nov 11, 2011 6:15pm EST
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By Clare Baldwin, Greg Roumeliotis and Sam Nelson

NEW YORK/CHICAGO (Reuters) - MF Global fired all 1,066 of its brokerage employees on Friday, triggering anger and resentment about the firm's collapse after bad bets on European debt under former CEO Jon Corzine's leadership.

How the abrupt, final blow was delivered upset many staff -- with some learning by e-mail and others through news on the television.

"Fifteen years and no severance!" shouted one angry MF Global employee as he left the firm's offices on 5th Avenue in Manhattan after hugging the receptionist and doorman.

The trustee in charge of liquidating the brokerage said in a statement that the workers were let go immediately, though they will be paid through November 15 and up to 200 will be rehired to help with the wind-down.

The timing couldn't be worse for the employees. Not only is the U.S. unemployment rate high at 9 percent, other Wall Street firms have been firing staff in recent months as trading profits decline and tighter regulation takes hold.

"The lives of so many people have been disrupted. We did not even get told individually, we got a group e-mail," said MF Global analyst Pierre-Yvan Desparois outside the company's offices in Manhattan.

"The company had a lot of potential, it did not have to end like this. I'm a credit analyst and I could have told Corzine not to invest 100 percent in the sovereign debt situation. He placed bets with people's lives," said Desparois.

A middle-aged man who said he had worked for MF Global for 23 years but who declined to give his name left another of the firm's New York offices wearing a black t-shirt over his collared shirt that was laced with profanity.   Continued...