Bank merger job cuts meet rising wave of criticism

SBC and UBS, the merging Swiss banks, are facing growing criticism over their handling of job cuts in their fixed income and foreign exchange (forex) divisions.

Four months after the banks confirmed their merger plans, many fixed income and forex staff still do not know whether they will have jobs in the new bank - their colleagues in equities and corporate finance were told two months ago.

There is also widespread unrest following the payment of so-called "derisory" bonuses. And there is continuing uncertainty over who will head up the fixed income division at the new bank. Some sources believe the banks are "trying to sideline" Andy Siciliano, the designated head of the division.

According to one source, the two banks are backing away from making formal announcements of fixed income and forex appointments in the hope that unwanted staff leave of their own accord. A source said: "It's a gross miscalculation. Both the good and the less good fixed income people are walking out of the door."

Bonus payments are alleged to be one method used by the banks to "try to give unwanted staff a hint". Hundreds of traders in the two banks' fixed income and forex divisions were angered by the size of their bonuses, announced in February and paid just a few days ago. Many junior traders are understood to have received no bonus whatsoever, and one of the growing number of "whinge forums" for investment bankers on the Internet - investmentbanker.co.uk - received more than 80 e-mails from disgruntled investment bankers on the day bonuses were announced.

The banks are also having to deal with growing numbers of defections in other investment banking divisions. In recent weeks, numerous City names, including Hector Sants and Renaud de Planta, have resigned.

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