Morgan Stanley cuts 9% China fund unit staff amid market rout: sources

MORGAN Stanley has laid off about 9 per cent of its employees at its asset administration enterprise unit in China, two folks with direct data of the matter mentioned, because the nation’s spiralling inventory market dampens prospects for its US$3.8 trillion fund sector.

Morgan Stanley Investment Management China began decreasing headcount in December and the transfer has impacted about 15 workers, the folks mentioned on situation of anonymity as they weren’t authorised to talk to the media.

This could be the primary time Morgan Stanley has lower employees on the China fund unit because it purchased out its native accomplice’s 36 per cent stake within the loss-making enterprise for about US$54 million in 2023. It rebranded the unit as a completely owned subsidiary in June.

Morgan Stanley declined to remark.

The downsizing underscores the challenges that international monetary corporations, together with JPMorgan and BlackRock, face on this planet’s second-biggest financial system as a protracted financial malaise batters markets there.

China’s blue-chip CSI300 index sank to five-year lows final month, after having misplaced 11 per cent in 2023, pummelled by an unprecedented debt disaster within the property sector and a scarcity of large-scale authorities stimulus.

The weakening of the Chinese market has hit native traders’ urge for food, leading to huge redemptions from actively managed equities funds.

The job cuts by Morgan Stanley within the China fund unit provides to the dour outlook for different China-focused jobs within the monetary sector together with funding banking.

China’s onshore fund market noticed a muted 6 per cent development in belongings final yr after a 1 per cent rise in 2022, slowing down from a staggering annual leap of greater than 27 per cent in each 2020 and 2021.

‘Play defensive’

Shenzhen-based Morgan Stanley IM China noticed its belongings below administration decline each quarter after reaching a peak in June 2021, with belongings in its funds plunging 53 per cent from the height to 19.8 billion yuan (S$3.7 billion) at end-2023, in accordance with firm disclosures.

The unit recorded an working lack of 48.5 million yuan in 2022 and 23.2 million yuan within the first half of 2023, earnings outcomes of its former three way partnership accomplice Huaxin Securities confirmed.

The US agency for the primary time employed a chief funding officer at Morgan Stanley IM China, Alex Zhou, to steer the funding enterprise. Zhou has beforehand labored at AIA, the place he was head of fairness.

The headcount discount and hiring of Zhou are a part of Morgan Stanley IM China’s ongoing initiatives to recalibrate the enterprise after taking full possession final yr, a 3rd supply with data of the matter mentioned.

One of the primary two sources mentioned to “play defensive” amid weaker fundraising prospects was additionally a key cause for the cuts.

Peter Alexander, founder and managing director of China consultancy Z-Ben Advisors, nevertheless, mentioned overseas corporations would possibly simply be rolling out overhaul or cuts in China models out of “polices of inertia”.

“It is more about pressure from the headquarters to reduce expenses anywhere and everywhere,” he mentioned. REUTERS