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Morning Coffee: Proof that Goldman and CIMB were right to cut M&A jobs in Singapore

M&A hiring on the decline in Singapore

The evidence against M&A

Goldman Sach’s cutting of 15 investment bankers in Singapore earlier this month raised a few eyebrows because it went beyond the standard cull of underperformers and included some very senior staff. Ruben Bhagobati, head of mergers and acquisitions for Southeast Asia, is leaving the US bank, for example.

As we opined at the time, the departures were partly triggered by Goldman’s own (comparatively) poor performance in Southeast Asian M&A – it ranked 6th for announced deals in the region last year, according to Bloomberg.

A new report from KPMG suggests that Goldman – and CIMB, who have also cut M&A bankers in Singapore – were right to be wary about M&A workloads in the city state this year.

While global appetite for mergers and acquisitions among large corporates is expected to expand this year, Singapore is tipped to experience a dip, says the report, which studied predicted forward price-to-earnings ratios. “Singapore, being an open economy, feels the effects of these likely headwinds faster than some of the other economies,” says Vishal Sharma, KPMG’s Asia Pacific head of M&A.

This all comes not just as bad news for bankers already in Singapore, but for those in the West looking for Asian experience. Budding expat bankers, already increasingly shut out of Hong Kong because they can’t speak Mandarin, will find it now tougher to find M&A jobs in Singapore this year.


Gender equality in investment banking is “hand-to-hand” combat, says Goldman Sachs co-head of human capital management in Asia, Kate Aitken. (Australian Financial Review)

Why you should be “moderately optimistic” about hiring in Singapore’s finance sector. (Channel News Asia)

Citi’s chief executive Michael Corbat warns employees not to forget about next year’s stress tests. (Wall Street Journal)

CIMB appoints Tigor Siahaan as Indonesia boss. (Reuters)

China considers freeing up interest rates. (Wall Street Journal)

China bank lending surges at fastest level for nearly six years. (South China Morning Post)

Singapore stock market saw highest dividend yields in Asia in February. (Straits Times)

How China plans to win the currency wars. (Bloomberg)

Low Taek Jho, chief executive officer of Jynwel Capital in Hong Kong, explains how he convinced Leonardo DiCaprio to star in Wolf of Wall Street. (South China Morning Post)

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