Layoffs Coming at SocGen?

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Societe Generale reported a larger-than-expected fourth quarter loss of 476 million euros and said it would reorganize around three businesses: retail banking in France, retail banking and financial services internationally and CIB, private banking and asset management.

The bank didn't say whether its restructuring would involve job losses, however, the head of retail banking in France, Jean-François Sammarcelli, said at a press conference today that the group plans to close "a few dozen" of its 3,250 bank branches in France. Last year, SocGen cut 1,600 jobs worldwide in its CIB division. It employs 160,000 worldwide.

One Paris-based research analyst who asked not to be named said he saw no obvious synergies in the reorganization and suggested that back office jobs could go.

Unions are convinced that further job cuts are coming. "We signed an agreement in late January with management on the management of jobs and skills, but this time this agreement  also includes for the first time all the accompanying social measures in the event of a redundancy plan as if management anticipated new layoffs and wanted to save time," said Alain Treviglio, national representative of the French Democratic Confederation of Labour (CFDT). The union does not expect sweeping layoffs such as those in the private banking and asset management division last year but "adjustments" in headcount, with outsourcing of central functions based in Paris and the back office workers the main concern.

A spokesman for SocGen said the implications of the reorganization into three from six groups would depend on consultations with team leaders in the coming weeks. "We are very early in the process," the spokesman said.

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