Regional HQ RBS layoffs slow to a trickle
Job cuts at Royal Bank of Scotland, which has laid off several hundred employees at its regional headquarters in Stamford in recent years, have dropped to their lowest year-to-date level since the company began major downsizing in the city in early 2015, according to a Hearst Connecticut Media review of state Department of Labor records.
The investment banking giant — which announced in June that it would sell its downtown building at 600 Washington Blvd., but lease offices there for another 10 years — has reported 47 layoffs in 2018 to the Labor Department. In contrast, it averaged about 150 Stamford job losses in the first nine months of the previous three years.
About 500 still work for the firm in Stamford, focusing on RBS’ NatWest Markets-branded corporate and institutional banking services.
A message left Tuesday for RBS was not immediately returned.
While the layoffs have subsided, they are likely not over. In a June 14 letter to the Labor Department that reported six job losses— marking the most recent round of Stamford reductions — the firm’s Americas HR head director, Ronni Greenberg, said that the company would “anticipate additional terminations throughout 2018.”
RBS’ downsizing “does not have an impact on Stamford’s economy at all,” representing 0.03 percent of the total jobs in the city, said Stamford economic development director Thomas Madden.
State officials, however, have pointed to RBS’ cuts as a key reason for area employment in financial services still running about 14 percent below its level when the financial crisis hit 10 years ago. The sector is one of the area’s highest paying and also one of the largest producers of tax revenues.
“We had a couple of large players that took gigantic hits, but we have quite a few bright lights that are seeing growth,” Catherine Smith, the state’s economic development commissioner, said of the industry, in an interview earlier this month.
The Edinburgh, Scotland-headquartered company’s troubles date to the 2008 financial crisis, which led to a bailout by the British government, still the majority owner of RBS.
Between 2008 and 2016, RBS incurred nine consecutive annual losses. The company bounced back in 2017 with a profit of about $1 billion.
Costly run-ins with regulators have also rocked the bank. In May, RBS agreed to a $4.9 billion settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice to resolve an investigation into the bank’s sale and underwriting of mortgage-backed securities in the lead-up to the financial crisis.
Among other recent U.S. cases, state Attorney General George Jepsen reached in October 2016 a $120 million settlement with the bank tied to its oversight of mortgage-backed securities. It represented the largest penalty against a company in the state’s history.
Now on a more stable footing, the company is still looking to cut costs, motivating the decision to sell the building at 600 Washington. The sale is not expected to directly affect the remaining Stamford employees.
The bank has declined to name its asking price for 600 Washington, which was appraised last year at about $150 million, according to the Vision Appraisal property database.
At 600 Washington, RBS takes about 90,000 square feet in the 12-floor building, according to its U.S. real estate broker, JLL. Another investment-banking giant, Switzerland’s UBS, occupies about 120,000 square feet, while Citizens Bank takes about 35,000 square feet.
In the same structure, Bank of America has said it would open launch this month an approximately 115,000-square-foot center.
RBS opened the steel-and-glass tower at 600 Washington in 2009. A package of up to $100 million in state tax credits supported a company investment of $400 million in the hub.
email@example.com; 203-964-2236; Twitter: @paulschott