Morgan Stanley is cutting jobs in its commodities business, after Chief Executive Officer James Gorman said the unit’s revenue the past two quarters was among its worst in 18 years.
The bank is shutting businesses including agricultural products and dry freight, according to an internal memo from Colin Bryce and Simon Greenshields, co-heads of the unit. Morgan Stanley will cut about 30 to 35 jobs in commodities, or about 10 percent of its workforce, according to a person briefed on the matter, who asked not to be identified because the information isn’t public.
Gorman said last week that he is “carefully re-evaluating” the proper structure for the commodities unit after holding talks with Qatar’s sovereign-wealth fund last year about selling a stake in the business. The past two quarters have been among the worst for commodities since 1995, he said.
“The overall performance of the business can and will be improved,” Gorman, 54, said on June 12. “But that said, we continue to explore strategic structures that may make sense for us.”
Morgan Stanley is also closing its Australian power business and cutting back in European power and gas, according to the memo. Mark Lake, a spokesman for the New York-based bank, confirmed the contents of the memo and declined to comment further. The job cuts were reported earlier today by the Financial Times.
Morgan Stanley is consolidating client coverage in London and Singapore and won’t have commodities employees in its Shanghai and Dubai offices, the person familiar with the moves said.
Gorman has set a goal of reducing the capital used by fixed-income and commodities trading by 60 percent from its peak as he seeks to improve returns. Commodities, which had a return on equity of less than 5 percent last year, was the only one of five fixed-income units for which Gorman didn’t lay out a target return on equity in a presentation last week. The U.S. Dodd-Frank Act limits the firm’s ability to acquire physical commodities, he said.
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