BNP Paribas SA plans to move the majority of its Hong Kong staff out of offices in the Central business district, as the lender looks to cut costs and adjust to the post-COVID-19 era, people familiar with the matter said.
The French lender is weighing shifting nearly all of its staff in Two International Finance Centre (IFC), a prestigious complex in a coveted location, to offices in Taikoo Place on the east side of Hong Kong island, the people said.
The move is set to happen as soon as next year, and some bankers might stay behind in the Central building, the people said.
BNP Paribas’ asset management business is already based in Lincoln House of Taikoo Place, information on its Web site says. It currently has four floors in Two IFC, the people said.
“The Hong Kong financial industry has entered a new phase of workspace transformation, and we have reassessed our operations post pandemic and taken the opportunity to shift to a more dynamic smart workspace, which allows greater collaboration and mobility,” a spokeswoman for BNP Paribas said in response to a Bloomberg News query.
The move comes as financial institutions are looking to trim costs by cutting staff globally amid persistent inflation and a slowdown in dealmaking. Citigroup Inc is set to join Wall Street rivals JPMorgan Chase & Co and Goldman Sachs Group Inc in cutting jobs, Bloomberg News has reported.
A rise in Hong Kong’s office vacancy rates and falling rents during the pandemic has weighed on the territory’s premier properties. Jefferies Financial Group Inc moved from billionaire Li Ka-shing’s (李嘉誠) skyscraper in Hong Kong’s Central district to Two IFC in December last year.
The building is also home to the regional offices of financial firms, including UBS Group AG.
Comprising 418,064m2, International Finance Centre features more than 200 stores and office space as well as a Four Seasons hotel, its Web site shows.
Separately, Credit Suisse Group AG has obtained licenses allowing it to launch its wealth management business in China in the first half of this year, as well as expand its securities trading and research activities onshore.
The bank received its investment consultancy, proprietary trading and nationwide brokerage licenses, an internal memo said.
A spokeswoman for the bank confirmed the contents of the memo.
The approvals mark progress for the embattled Swiss lender, which last year faced delays in getting approvals for some of its China operations after a flurry of senior management departures. In preparation for the launch of its wealth management business in China, Credit Suisse plans to double the number of relationship managers onshore, the memo said.
The European lender made deep cuts to its China workforce in November last year as part of the global overhaul, letting go at least one-third of its investment bankers and about 40 percent of research staff.
Carsten Stoehr, chief executive officer for Greater China, quit in December, among the most senior departures.
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