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ABN joins in bank cost-cutting with 2,350 jobs to go

ABN Amro’s London operations could be spared, but UK banks warn of further efficiency drives

ABN Amro is the latest bank to unveil job losses: it expects 2,350 positions to be axed over the next three to four years as part of an efficiency drive.

Banks around the world have announced tens of thousands of job cuts in recent months amid regulatory uncertainty, weak economic growth and fears of another downturn. ABN’s London operation, which employs 500 people, is expected to be spared, with most redundancies in the Netherlands, headquarters of the predominantly Dutch bank.

Britain’s HSBC shocked staff earlier this month when it announced plans to cut 30,000 jobs; Credit Suisse and UBS have also unveiled cutbacks. Lloyds said it is reducing headcount by a further 15,000, bring total cuts since it was rescued by the taxpayer to 40,000 .

UK banks have warned of more cost-cutting if the upcoming Independent Commission on Banking splits banks’ deposit-taking arms from their investment banking operations.

Analysts say global banks have cut more than 60,000 jobs in the past three months amid renewed crisis in the eurozone, and during a period when the US was stripped of its triple-A credit rating.

ABN has had a troubled few years, but its financial performance has improved under chief executive Gerrit Zalm: on Friday (26 August) it reported a profit of €864m in the first half of 2011, against a loss of €968m at the same time last year. An interim dividend of €200m is to be paid on the ordinary shares.

But Zalm was less than upbeat this weekend: “The impact of government debt on the global economy is still unclear. Though our resilient businesses and strong capital base put us in a good position, we remain cautious for the remainder of the year.”

ABN said efficiency measures, including more automation and internet banking would have an impact on employees.

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