UPDATE 2-BTG Pactual fires 18 pct of Brazil staff in cost-cutting crusade

jueves 28 de enero de 2016 17:22 GYT

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By Guillermo Parra-Bernal and Tatiana Bautzer

SAO PAULO Jan 28 (Reuters) - Grupo BTG Pactual SA cut about 18 percent of Brazil-based staff on Thursday as the embattled investment-banking firm moved to reduce costs by 25 percent in the wake of the arrest of billionaire founder André Esteves.

In a securities filing, BTG Pactual said the dismissal of 305 employees based in São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and other Brazilian cities will not disrupt or lead to the closure of any business area. The bank had 1,653 staff in Brazil.

On Wednesday, Reuters reported that up to 25 percent of Brazil employees could be fired to bring payroll in line with BTG Pactual's shrunken balance sheet and business flow since Esteves' Nov. 25 detention. Some employees had been informed of their dismissals earlier in the week, according to a source familiar with the matter.

Esteves, also the bank's former chief executive officer, was arrested and accused of obstructing a sweeping corruption probe. He was freed late in December under certain restrictions. The situation led Latin America's No. 1 independent investment bank to begin selling assets and dismantling trading operations.

Total assets slid 12 percent to 266.6 billion reais ($67 billion) last quarter, from 303 billion reais in the prior three months. Several assets, including pools of loans and stakes in dozens of companies, were put up for sale to help balance the books.

BTG Pactual, excluding Switzerland-based private banking unit BSI Group Ltd, had about 3,300 employees worldwide in December.