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Charles Schwab Scales Back Global Operations

by Philip Morton, Investors Offshore.com

11 December 2001


Charles Schwab, once the leading light of the online brokerage world, revealed on Friday that it is scaling back its global operations still further, and that it it will be exiting the Japanese and Australian markets as a result of weak trading conditions.

According to Bill Atwell, the Executive Vice President of Schwab International, the Australian and Japanese units will close by the end of January 2002, bringing the total number of employees trimmed by the online broker this year to around 5,000 (or approximately 25% of the total workforce).

Schwab has long professed confidence in the long term growth prospects of international markets, but the recent economic conditions have meant that the brokerage has been forced to trim unprofitable operations. However, Mr Atwell admitted that it was galling to be axing the Japanese and Australian arms of the business, which were only established last year.

'It's disappointing to be closing the businesses in Australia and Japan at such an early stage,' he admitted, but explained that: 'We have seen a significant downturn in market activity and a corresponding drop in investor confidence since launching these businesses. In light of these factors, we made the decision to concentrate our efforts on those markets that we believe are more promising.'

However, he revealed that (for the moment at least!) there is no immediate threat to any of the other global Charles Schwab operations, currently based in Canada, the United Kingdom, Hong Kong, the Cayman Islands, and Brazil.


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