HSBC, the UK banking group, fired 60 from its 400-strong corporate finance team in London last week as the bank continues a review of its businesses.
Two teams were affected: internet and technology, run by Jerome Dupas, and software and computers, led by Alistair Martin. The teams had 20 staff between them. An HSBC spokesman said: 'We consulted 60 people about their employment last week. Some of them may be redeployed within the bank.'
Market sources said HSBC aims to cut one in five people in the investment banking business, led by Krishna Patel. The spokesman denied these figures.
He said: 'There will be an overall reduction in head count as the bank is carrying out a review of all its businesses in line with the downturn in market conditions.'
HSBC investment banking and markets, which includes private banking and asset management, has 17,000 staff globally.
In London, there are about 2,300 staff in treasury and capital markets, global investment banking, private equity and merchant banking.
The spokesman declined to specify when the review will be completed.
Sources said the primary business in London, which includes areas such as corporate broking and equity capital markets, has been reviewed. Sales and research will be completed by the middle of this month, with drastic cuts expected.
Keith Baird, an analyst at fund management house Prudential Bache, said HSBC investment banking contributed $867m (€962m), or 9%, to group profits in 2000. In the first half of this year, investment banking profits were $239m lower than in the same period last year.
Baird said: 'The layoffs represent precautionary measures in light of market conditions, rather than a meaningful shift in strategy.
'HSBC will concentrate on profitable niches in investment banking where there are synergies with its international corporate franchise, rather than business such as M&A or equity underwriting.'