CBA to close institutional equities after alliance with Goldman


James Eyres
8 December 2015

Commonwealth Bank of Australia will shut down its institutional equities business, after announcing on Monday a strategic alliance with investment bank Goldman Sachs, which will provide CommSec and CBA private banking clients with investment research and access to equity capital market deals.

CBA suggested the "wind-down" of its institutional equities team could result in job losses. The bank is "working through the impact on its people", it said, including considering moving staff into other jobs within CBA or at Goldman. It is understood about 50 CBA staff are affected by the closure

The deal follows a hotly contested process, with several large investment banks seeking access to CBA's large retail distribution network. Under the alliance, Goldman Sachs will now have exclusive access to CommSec's extensive retail network, cutting out other investment banks from distributing deals through the platform.


"Making the decision to discontinue with this team has been difficult," said Kelly Bayer Rosmarin, CBA group executive for institutional banking and markets, adding the move reflected a more-global outlook from many institutional equity clients.  "Our clients are increasingly operating internationally and while we are able to offer global solutions in many parts of our business, we have not been able to provide access to global equity markets," she said.


The institutional equities team at CBA contributed less than 1 per cent of the net profit of the institutional banking and markets group during the past full year.  The chief executive of Goldman Sachs in Australia, Simon Rothery, said the deal would assist Goldman clients looking to get equity capital markets deals away in Australia. The alliance "will greatly enhance our combined abilities to execute a range of equity financing solutions for all of our clients," he said.


It is understood Goldman's relationship with broker JBWere is now under review and may need to be altered given the exclusivity provisions relating to CommSec.  Under the alliance, some corporate clients of CBA will now be referred to Goldman for ECM advice.


Goldman will provide CommSec and CBA private banking clients with investment research for domestic equities and some global stocks in five regions. Goldman will also provide its macroeconomic and strategic research to CBA clients.  It is understood that Barclays Capital, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Citi and JPMorgan were also chasing the deal, as investment banks seek to bolster their retail networks. For example, Citi distributes through Bell Potter, JPMorgan through Ord Minnet, and UBS through Credstone.