By Matthieu Protard
PARIS (Reuters) – Societe Generale has not yet taken a decision about any layoffs at its corporate and investment bank as it looks for 500 million euros (435.5 million pounds) in cost savings, a source at the bank said on Friday.
The French bank said this month it planned to restructure its investment bank to save costs. It has said it would focus on activities such as equity derivatives and would scale back its fixed-income, currencies and commodities business.
“If something were decided, there would be talks with labour representatives. There is nothing yet,” a bank official told Reuters, when asked about a report suggesting the bank was planning layoffs. The official asked not to be identified.
A union representative told Reuters: “Meetings were held with the management, but not on this issue” of layoffs.
“We don’t have information, but we know it is coming. We are waiting. There is no panic,” the representative added.
After years of low interest rates that have curtailed returns for retail banking, SocGen, BNP Paribas, Deutsche Bank and other big European banks have been relying on the more volatile earnings of corporate and investment banking.
SocGen, which lowered financial targets on Feb. 7 after weak fourth quarter results, has been under pressure from investors to boost its profitability.
SocGen Deputy Chief Executive Severin Cabannes, who oversees the corporate and investment banking unit which employs 18,000 people in 30 countries, said this month the bank would stop some businesses but did not elaborate.
In the past 12 months, the bank’s shares have lost 45 percent of their value. The stock is down more than 8 percent in 2019, while the banking stock index is up 5 percent.
SocGen has also announced it replaced the head of trading, Frank Drouet, with Jean-Francois Gregoire, the deputy chief risk officer.
(Reporting by Matthieu Protard and Inti Landauro; Editing by Edmund Blair)