RBS cuts London asset-backed, CLO team on Zoom call

Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg

Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc is pressing ahead with its restructuring plan, trimming its securitized credit team in London even as many of its peers halt job cuts amid the chaos caused by the coronavirus outbreak.

RBS, soon to be renamed NatWest Group Plc, let go a team of traders and salespeople for asset-backed securities and collateralized loan obligations, according to people familiar with the matter, who asked not to be identified because the details are private. CLO trader Antoine Dulucq and ABS trader Eric Huang, together with four sales staff were cut, the people said. Both declined to comment.

The cuts come as NatWest’s new boss, Alison Rose, slashes the bank’s markets business. She said in February the restructuring of the markets unit will focus it on financial and risk management for corporate and institutional customers and will mean reducing the size of the rates business.

A spokesperson for NatWest Markets, the bank’s securities arm, confirmed the team is being wound down as part of the broader shakeup.

“We are reducing our market making offering in flow ABS, RMBS and CLO and will no longer make markets in third party-led flow programs,” the spokesperson said. “We remain committed to our securitised products financing and solutions business, and will continue to undertake primary distribution and provide secondary liquidity to NatWest Markets-led programs.”

The bank’s approach appears to jar with that of its peers. HSBC Holdings Plc is putting on hold as many as 35,000 job cuts while Lloyds Banking Group Plc halted plans to trim around 780 positions. Thousands of bankers are set for a reprieve at Morgan Stanley and Citigroup Inc.

In a sign of the times with many financial employees working from home, the cuts were announced to the team on a Zoom call, according to the people familiar with the matter.

Structured credit, the epicenter of the 2008 financial crisis, has become a key trouble spot in the market convulsions during the coronavirus’s rampage around the world. Spreads on bonds backed by assets such as leveraged corporate loans and prime residential mortgages have spiked in the past month as panicked investors offload the notes to raise cash to meet redemptions.

— Alastair Marsh and Priscila Azevedo Rocha (Bloomberg)

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