Deutsche Bank and Goldman Sachs to close New Zealand operations

NZ Herald | 2 Nov 2015

Retrenchment will cost 29 Auckland jobs as bank joins Goldman Sachs in servicing clients from Australia.

Deutsche Bank's Frankfurt headquarters. The global banking giant is shedding 35,000 staff and will shut its NZ operation. Photo / AP
Deutsche Bank’s Frankfurt headquarters. The global banking giant is shedding 35,000 staff and will shut its NZ operation. Photo / AP

Moves by global financial players to close New Zealand-based operations are disappointing and put the local industry in danger of losing critical mass, a top fund manager says.

On Friday, Deutsche Bank announced it would close its Auckland office as part of a global overhaul that will see the German bank exit 10 countries and shed 35,000 staff in a bid to improve returns.

Twenty-nine fixed income and support staff will be affected by the closure, which is expected to be completed by the end of next year.

New Zealand clients would then be serviced from Australia.

Deutsche Bank’s restructuring comes hot on the heels of Goldman Sachs’ proposal to shift its Auckland-based securities trading operations, which employ fewer than 20 staff, to Sydney.

Paul Glass, principal of Devon Funds Management, said it was always disappointing when a player left the market.

Paul Glass.
Paul Glass.

“Gone are the days when anyone celebrates anyone exiting the market,” he said.

“There is a danger that you can get below critical mass … that’s something that we’re all keen to avoid. I think it’s very important for New Zealand’s financial sovereignty that we maintain our own robust capital markets.”

An investment banker, who did not want to be named, said more operational closures were likely to be seen in the industry, particularly of back office work that doesn’t necessarily need to be carried out in this country. “Is this the beginning of a trend? Yes.”

However, he said roles that require face-to-face interaction – such as those in investment banking – had a strong future here.

Goldman Sachs has indicated it will retain its Auckland-based investment banking unit.

Philip King, chairman of the Institute of Finance Professionals New Zealand (Infinz), said Deutsche Bank’s restructuring didn’t amount to a complete withdrawal from the market as it will retain its 49.9 per cent interest in local share brokerage Craigs Investment Partners and still have the ability to serve Kiwi clients from Australia.

Craigs and its wholly-owned investment banking subsidiary, Deutsche Craigs, are unaffected by the Deutsche Bank changes.

“From a corporate perspective, Deutsche hasn’t been a lender in this market for some time,” King said. “It’s never great to see a bank pull out but I don’t really think it changes the market that much for corporates.”

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