Morgan Stanley denies Fox layoff report

NEW YORK Wed Jul 13, 2011 7:31pm EDT

Investment bank Morgan Stanley is pictured in New York City, September 17, 2008. REUTERS/Mike Segar

Investment bank Morgan Stanley is pictured in New York City, September 17, 2008.

Credit: Reuters/Mike Segar

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - Morgan Stanley (MS.N) might lay off more workers than the few hundred underperforming financial advisers it previously said were at risk of being fired, according to Fox Business Network.

The news network reported on Wednesday that Morgan Stanley could cut "possibly thousands of jobs," citing a source with direct knowledge of the matter. A company spokeswoman dismissed the report.

"We are constantly evaluating the market conditions to ensure we are right sized," Morgan Stanley spokeswoman Mary Claire Delaney wrote in an e-mailed statement. "We have said we currently have no plans for a major (reduction in workforce) other than 300 or so underperforming FAs, and that remains the case."

Banks with big Wall Street trading operations have been scrutinizing their staffing levels to cut costs in a weak trading environment. Morgan Stanley has been building out its fixed-income division in an effort to gain market share that had contracted in the days leading up to the financial crisis.

Morgan Stanley, the only major Wall Street bank that books more than 40 percent of its revenue from retail brokerage, had 62,494 employees as of March 31.

Its wealth management area burgeoned in 2009 to more than 17,000 advisers when James Gorman, now chief executive of the firm and former head of Merrill Lynch's retail brokerage division, arranged for a controlling interest in Citigroup's Smith Barney business.

Morgan Stanley laid off about 300 financial advisers in the first quarter of 2011.

Chief Financial Officer Ruth Porat recently said it may bring wealth management staffing levels down further as the bank integrates Smith Barney and cuts overlap.

Fox Business Network report did not specify what businesses Morgan Stanley was reportedly studying for layoffs.

(Reporting by Lauren Tara LaCapra; edited by Jed Horowitz)

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