Staff at top Asian brokerage asked to cut pay to avoid job losses

HONG KONG, October 28, 2008 (AFP) – Hundreds of senior staff at one of Asia’s top brokerages, CLSA, have been asked to take a pay cut of up to 25 percent in a bid to avoid redundancies, a spokeswoman said Tuesday. A total of 500 senior brokers, analysts and managers at the Asian brokerage unit of French bank Credit Agricole were last week asked to participate in the scheme, Simone Wheeler, CLSA’s Hong Kong-based spokeswoman told AFP.

“This is our first line of defence in terms of having to reduce costs without reducing staff,” she said.

Employees had until Monday to confirm whether they were willing to take a pay cut of 15 percent, 20 percent or 25 percent for 2009.

If the company hits monthly targets, staff will be repaid the amount they gave up plus a bonus depending on the success of cost-cutting measures, Wheeler said.

However, the scheme is not compulsory and those who decline will not be penalised, she said.

CLSA, which is headquartered in Hong Kong but has operations across Asia, said it was yet to confirm the number of staff who had volunteered for the cuts.

The company implemented a similar scheme during the SARS crisis in 2003, when Hong Kong’s economy was buffeted by worri