KBW to close Hong Kong office after sale

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 10 November, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 10 November, 2012, 5:04am

Securities firm Keefe Bruyette & Woods is in the process of closing its operations in Hong Kong and Tokyo to focus on core businesses in the US and Europe, following its acquisition by Stifel Financials.

The shutdown is expected to result in about 20 job losses and cost about US$4 million, mostly in severance payouts.

Stifel Financials, a United States-focused brokerage and investment bank, agreed to buy KBW in a cash-and-stock deal for about US$575 million to create a middle-market investment bank focused on the financial services industry.

The company is yet to settle the severance for its Asian employees, but is expected to close its Hong Kong and Tokyo offices by the end of this year.

KBW said in its third-quarter report that the net losses of its operations I the Asian region for the nine months to September amounted to about US$5 million.

Based on the acquisition agreement, Stifel will pay US$10 a share in cash and US$7.50 a share in stock for KBW.

The firm's retreat from Asia comes even as many banks are trying to establish a foothold in the region to tap into the booming growth while Western economies flounder.

Analysts said the move makes sense in that Stifel Financials was US-focused. The Asian market being a competitive one, businesses without a local edge often have a difficult time profiting from the equities business.

In July, US investment bank Piper Jaffray said it would pull out of Hong Kong after quarterly profits fell due to weak business and tough competition. The company was expected to earn between US$13 million and US$18 million from its exit.

Piper Jaffray is based in Minnesota and focuses on selling financial advice, investment products and transaction executions in the financial sector.