ABN Amro has closed down its Japanese equities business with the loss of 100 jobs in Tokyo and 20 more around the world, just months after firing 500 staff in emerging markets and the US.
In Tokyo the firm will close all of its Japanese equities research, sales and trading business, but will continue to maintain an equities derivatives business and non-Japanese equity sales to Japanese clients.
In a statement ABN Amro said: "The operations being discontinued in Tokyo include the domestic equity research department, the domestic distribution team, equity capital markets, certain associated support functions, and equity sales teams elsewhere in the world distributing Japanese equities."
The sales teams affected outside Japan include the team in London, headed by Candia Peterson, and New York, as well as smaller teams in Frankfurt, Paris and Dubai.
The firm said that it remained "fully committed to serving the crossborder wholesale banking needs of its selected corporate clients in Japan, as well as the Japanese banking requirements of its international clients".
The move is part of a wider restructuring launched at the beginning of this year of the corporate and investment banking division at ABN Amro which has performed miserably for the past few years. Nick Bannister, the former head of equities at the firm, launched a wholesale review of its overstaffed equities business earlier this year.
The move by ABN Amro makes it the second European firm in as many months to cut back in Japanese equities. Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein closed its domestic Asian and Japanese equities business as part of a programme of over 1,500 redundancies worldwide.
The decision to focus the cuts on Japan coincides with the Nikkei 225 reaching historic lows in the past few weeks. The Nikkei fell below 11,000, its lowest level in 17 years, and threatened to cross over with the Dow Jones index before the attacks in New York. This has compounded what is already a fiercely competitive market which is dominated by Nomura Securities and a handful of US players, such as Salomon Smith Barney, which has a joint venture with Nikko Securities.