Home » Citi bankers brace for job cuts as ‘Project Bora Bora’ advances

Citi bankers brace for job cuts as ‘Project Bora Bora’ advances

The Australian and New Zealand arm currently employs about 900 people and is led by chief executive Mark Woodruff. Its Australian business is now part of Citi’s “banking and international” organisation.

“We’ve acknowledged the actions we’re taking to reorganise the firm involve some difficult, consequential decisions, but they’re the right steps to align our structure to our strategy,” Citi’s spokeswoman said.

‘Project Bora Bora’

In September, chief executive Jane Fraser announced a corporate reorganisation of the bank aimed at reducing management layers.

Five heads of businesses – services, markets, banking, wealth and US personal banking – now report directly to the chief executive.

Codenamed Project Bora Bora, the restructure has so far thinned out its global management layers to eight from 13. Management layers within Citi’s personal banking and wealth management arms have been eliminated, while some senior roles in its institutional clients group, which previously housed investment banking, were axed.

The US bank also culled layers of regional management in the Asia-Pacific, Europe, Middle East, Africa and Latin America.

In its third-quarter earnings last month, Citi said it has cut around 15 per cent of “functional roles” within the two highest “management layers”. Sources said this included roles like co-heads of certain departments, chiefs of staff and lower-tier bankers, among others. The bank also said it culled approximately 60 committees in “phase one” of the restructure.

“Citi had all these fiefdoms … and layers of truly useless, senior people,” one person, based in New York, said.

“Bloated costs, combined with declining market shares in investment banking are tough to swallow.”

At the end of the September third quarter, expenses were up 6 per cent year-on-year to $US13.5 billion ($20.6 billion). The bank attributed this increase to investments in risk management, inflation and severance payments, but said this was partially offset by exiting certain businesses such as retail banking outside the US.

In Australia, Citi’s investment banking arm has won roles on some of the country’s largest transactions, including advising Canadian investor Brookfield on its potential $18 billion-plus acquisition of Origin Energy, and BHP’s $10 billion OZ Minerals buy.