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Bulge-Bracket Banks to Hire Outside U.S.

Markets outside the U.S. continue to dominate growth plans at Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley.

Goldman expects "greater (headcount) growth outside the US but very modest growth everywhere," CFO David Viniar said on a March 18 conference call following the firm's quarterly earnings announcement. Worldwide, Goldman expects its work force to grow in the "low to mid single digits." At the end of fiscal 2007, the bank employed 30,500 people.

Morgan Stanley is "aggressively pursuing new markets where wealth is growing rapidly," CFO Colm Kelleher said on a conference call, reports Financial News. The bank, which got 54 percent of its first-quarter net revenue outside the U.S., expects to "throw more resources into Asia and it remains a major area of focus for us," Kelleher said.

Morgan Stanley's U.S. revenue fell by about one-third from a year earlier, while revenue from Europe, the Middle East and Africa grew about 20 percent and Asia revenue edged up 1 percent. However, the geographic segment revenues were affected by asset write-downs accounted for as subtractions from revenue.

According to Financial News, "Overall staff numbers will depend on market conditions. Kelleher said: 'We are focused intently on headcount and looking very much at our allocation of resources.'"

Lehman Brothers sounded a more cautious note. While 62 percent of first-quarter revenue came from outside the U.S., discussion of headcount centered around recent reductions. Staffing dropped to 28,000 at the end of February and is down by 1,100 in March. "We continue to monitor the sizing of our workforce versus the opportunity," the bank said.

CFO Erin Callan told a conference call that revenue from outside the U.S. grew 7 percent from a year earlier, to $2.2 billion. However, write-downs of U.S.-originated deals caused Europe and Middle East revenue to shrink 44 percent.

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