Barings goes back to its roots

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The Independent Online
ING BARINGS, the investment bank, is set to unveil plans for a radical shift away from emerging markets and back towards developing the traditional Baring Brothers advisory business in the UK, US and Continental Europe.

Insiders said the new strategy could involve recruiting staff in the City, New York and key western European centres. It would also mean cutbacks in markets in Asia, Latin America and eastern Europe, where the bank has an extensive branch and office network.

David Robins, the new head of ING Barings, who joined the bank from UBS in October, will present the preliminary results of his review of the business to the supervisory board of ING, Barings' Dutch parent, when it meets on Thursday.

The review was launched by Mr Robins following the massive emerging markets losses at ING Barings in August and September, and is due to be completed by 6 January.

The losses resulted in 1,200 jobs being axed across the firm and the departure of Marinus Minderhoud, ING Barings' unpopular chairman, whom many inside the firm blame for a raft of defections of key staff this year. The bank has signalled that it may scale down or close some of its branches in Latin America and Asia.

Mr Robins has already brought a more decisive style to the organisation, which, insiders said, has in the past lacked the resolve to tackle structural flaws in the firm. In an internal memo sent to staff earlier this month, Mr Robins said he was determined to ensure that this review does not run into the sand.

Sources said that the previous strategy of seeking to use ING's emerging markets connections to generate advisory business for Barings in London had never met expectations.

They said it has been clear for some time that Barings would be better off playing to its traditional UK advisory strengths and using ING's relationships in the Netherlands, where it is the number two bank after ABN-Amro.