Lombard Odier, the Swiss private bank, is to let 11 of its 33 staff in its Gibraltar outpost go, “in a cost-cutting move it insists is unrelated to Brexit”, the Gibraltar Chronicle has reported.
According to the online edition of the Chronicle, the staff were informed of the development at a meeting yesterday morning.
Local managing director of Lombard Odier Peter Caetano couldn’t be reached for comment today, as the offices are closed as part of the long weekend, and won’t reopen until Tuesday, a recorded message informs callers.
However, Caetano told the Gibraltar Chronicle that the bank remained “fully committed” to the Rock and would capitalise on the growth potential of Gibraltar’s financial centre.
The report added: “The bank will concentrate its activities in Gibraltar on asset management, mainly for local and UK clients, and will maintain the commercial and support functions directly linked to strengthening this business segment.”
It also quoted Lombard Odier partner Marc Lopez as saying that the decision to reduce the bank’s workforce in Gibraltar was related to wider developments in the global private banking sector and “has absolutely nothing to do with Brexit, hard or soft”.
The Gibraltar government as saying it regretted the news of the redundancies, the Gibraltar Chronicle noted.
Struggle to retain banks
In cutting back its presence in Gibraltar, Lombard Odier is joining the ranks of banks that have left Gibraltar and other “offshore” jurisdictions in recent years.
The exodus reached the point in Gibraltar, in fact, some years ago that the Gibraltar government agreed to the establishment of a fully-government-owned savings institution, the Gibraltar International Bank, which finally opened its doors in June, 2015.
As reported here last year, that decision was ultimately prompted by the announcement by Barclays in 2014 that it was planning to leave the British overseas territory, where it had been a fixture since it first began offering banking services to Gibraltarians in the late 19th century.
Earlier this month, it was revealed that the winding down of the Duncan Lawrie private banking branch on the Isle of Man, as a result of the previously-announced break-up and sale of its London-based parent, would see 39 full-time jobs there being lost.
Other jurisdictions that have struggled to hold onto their banks in recent years have included Guernsey, the Cayman Islands and Barbados.
Lombard Odier & Cie (Gibraltar) Ltd has been present in Gibraltar since 1987, according to its website, and offers discretionary and advisory portfolio management and family offices services.
These aren’t the main focus of the Gibraltar International Bank, which is more of a traditional retail and commercial bank, as was the Gibraltar government’s intention when it decided to back it, as a service to the territory’s residents.