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Financial companies in Hong Kong

An array of financial companies in Hong Kong are jumping on the layoff bandwagon in the face of global financial uncertainties triggered by Europe’s sovereign debt crisis and the slow recovery of the U.S. economy.

Samsung Securities Co., South Korea’s No. 1 brokerage by market cap, said Wednesday it will downsize its Hong Kong operation, more than halving its number of employees there, which currently stands at some 100.

“We are adjusting our speed as needed on the rough roads,” said Kim Suk, the chief executive officer of Samsung Securities, implying the company has faced turbulence in the financial markets. “You can drive at 100 kilometers per hour on a freeway, but on a bumpy road, your car will break down if you drive at the same speed.”

The South Korean securities firm is not the first one in the Hong Kong financial industry to scale back its business and go through a restructuring.

British banking giant HSBC Holdings Plc announced last September that it will cut 3,000 out of 23,000 jobs in Hong Kong over the next three years.

So-called top global financial firms, such as Morgan Stanley, Barclays Capital, Credit Suisse and Royal Bank of Scotland followed suit by announcing or quietly executing layoffs.

Japan’s two largest brokerages, Nomura Holdings Inc. and Daiwa Securities Group Inc., have recently been cutting costs, especially in their overseas units in Asia and Europe, by trimming jobs and reallocating employees.

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