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Bank of America to cut Asia investment banking jobs - sources

The Bank of America building is shown in Los Angeles, California October 29, 2014. REUTERS/Mike Blake/Files

By Saeed Azhar, Anshuman Daga and Sumeet Chatterjee

SINGAPORE/HONG KONG (Reuters) - Bank of America is set to cut about two dozen investment banking jobs in Asia, including some top dealmakers, sources told Reuters, as a slowdown forces western banks to cut costs.

The job cut plan comes after Reuters reported on Friday that Goldman Sachs is planning to cut almost 30 percent of its 300 investment banking jobs in Asia outside Japan, in response to a fall in activity in the region.

Some bankers handling client coverage and deals will be made redundant, starting this week, with cuts expected in Hong Kong, Singapore and Japan, BofA's big centres in Asia, the sources said, adding that the total number has not been finalised.

Bank of America's cuts will account for a small portion of its total Asia corporate and investment banking staff, and are part of an annual cost trimming, one of the sources said.

A Hong Kong-based spokesman for Bank of America, which last year posted a roughly 3 percent drop in its Asia net income, declined to comment. The sources declined to be identified as the information is not public.

The latest cuts in Asia come against the backdrop of a tough dealmaking environment as well as a slowdown in major economies including in China, Hong Kong and Singapore. The banks' business has also been eroded by local competitors.

Bank of America is on track to post higher third quarter revenues in its investment banking business compared to the second quarter, its investment banking head Christian Meissner said at an industry event earlier this month.

However, the bank was gaining market share in most regions except for Asia Pacific, he said.

In July, Chief Executive Officer Brian Moynihan announced a new expense target of $53 billion for 2018, $3.3 billion less than its total expenses over the past four quarters.

The new target came after years of working through a sweeping cost-cutting project dubbed "New BAC" and an ongoing efficiency initiative called "Simplify and Improve."

Besides Bank of America and Goldman, many western banks have announced plans to scale down their operations in Asia in the past year, as they grapple with slowing revenue growth and higher operating costs in the region.

Barclays said in January that it would cut about 1,000 staff in its investment bank operations worldwide, with the bulk in Asia, while Societe Generale decided to close its equities research desk in India.

Other European banks including BNP Paribas and Deutsche Bank are expected to scale back operations in non-core Asian markets while last year Asia-focused Standard Chartered shut down its equities franchise.

The value of announced M&A deals for Asia-Pacific companies, excluding Japanese firms, fell 17.7 percent to $553 billion in the first half, while share offerings in the region sank nearly 60 percent, according to Thomson Reuters data.

(Editing by Louise Heavens and Alexander Smith)