DUBAI Morgan Stanley Inc (MS.N), the sixth-largest U.S. bank by assets, is trimming staff at its Dubai office, mainly by cutting jobs in its equities division, as part of a global plan to reduce costs, three sources aware of the matter said.
The bank plans to slash 1,600 jobs globally, many of whom work in its securities unit, sources told Reuters last week.
Big U.S. and European institutions are cutting investment banking jobs in the Middle East as the promise of emerging markets is overshadowed by the need to slash costs and a dearth of deal activity.
UBS UBSN.VX, Bank of America Merrill Lynch (BAC.N) and Nomura Holdings (8604.T) have all cut jobs in their investment banking teams for the region in recent months.
"The Dubai cuts are part of the bank's global plan. Obviously, the bank is trying to focus on growth opportunities in the region and there has been little growth on the equities side barring Saudi," one of the sources said, speaking on condition of anonymity as the matter has not been made public.
Morgan Stanley's equities business will now focus on Saudi Arabia, the source said, adding that planned cuts at other divisions in the Middle East were minimal.
Morgan Stanley declined to comment.
Equity capital markets issuance in the Middle East was $9.4 billion in 2012, according to Thomson Reuters data, down 5 percent from the previous year. Trading volumes in most Gulf Arab markets are down sharply from the highs of 2005-07.
It was not immediately clear how many Morgan Stanley employees in Dubai would be affected by the move, but a second source said the cuts in the emirate might be limited to fewer than 10 employees.
The U.S. bank's mergers & acquisitions head for the Middle East and North Africa left the bank recently, sources told Reuters in December.
Morgan Stanley was one of the advisers to telecom operator Etisalat ETEL.AD in a block sale of its 9.1-percent stake in Indonesia's PT XL Axiata (EXCL.JK) last year. The UAE telco got a $117 million gain on the deal.
The bank also advised French lender Societe Generale (SOGN.PA) in the sale of its Egyptian arm to Qatar National Bank QNBK.QA in December, and is one of the banks involved in the planned state-backed merger of Abu Dhabi property firms Aldar Properties ALDR.AD and Sorouh Real Estate SOR.AD.
(Editing by Andrew Torchia)