Citi axes Asia property investment banking team

Citigroup fired most employees at its real estate investment banking team in Asia after slumping property prices stifled share sales and acquisitions in the industry, three people familiar with the matter told Bloomberg News.

The New York-based bank dismissed at least five people two weeks ago, the people said, declining to be identified because they aren’t authorised to discuss the matter publicly. Departures included Edmund Ho, a managing director who headed the team, and Director Edward Yeh, they said.

On the local front, Citi Singapore clarified that real estate investment banking is carried out by the local investment banking and corporate banking arms, which are separate from the company’s real estate investment banking division based in Hong Kong.

“In Singapore, we maintain active real estate coverage teams through our local investment banking and corporate banking teams that continue to work closely with our clients in the real estate sector,” said Mr Adam Rahman, director of Citi Singapore corporate affairs.

“We have a long-term partnership and relationship with all of our real estate clients in Singapore and remain committed to serving their financial needs.”

Citi, however, declined to reveal the number of employed real estate staff in Singapore.

Citigroup, which in November embarked on a plan to shed 52,000 jobs worldwide, will serve property clients through its country and corporate bankers after closing down Ho’s team, the people said.

Singapore, Hong Kong and China accounted for most of Citigroup’s real estate investment banking transactions in Asia excluding Japan in the past two years, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Source : Today – 4 Dec 2008

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