Fear at the Wharf - will Bar Cap be next to make layoffs?

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The view at Canary Wharf isn't looking great. Will Barclays Capital be next to darken the horizon?

Bank of America, Morgan Stanley and Citigroup are already lopping tens of staff over in East London, but there's no sign yet whether Bar Cap will follow.

The silence isn't entirely surprising, given Bar Cap doesn't announce full year results until February and won't make a trading statement until the end of November.

Back in early October, Bar Cap president Bob Diamond told investors the bank was profitable over the summer. However rumours are rife over Bar Cap's exposure to the sub-prime crisis: shares in parent company Barclays declined 8.2% last Friday on allegations (later denied by the bank) that it had been borrowing at the Bank of England's emergency window.

Does Barclays Capital need to eliminate bodies? The bank has certainly been hiring vigorously, adding 5,000 people globally between June 2006 and June 2007 alone, and upping staff 50% in the process.

It's also said to have one of the City's largest CDO structuring and origination teams. Edward Cahill, head of collateralised debt obligations at Bar Cap in London, left in August, but it's unclear whether the rest of the team has been pruned or remains intact.

Meanwhile, recruiters say much of Bar Cap's 2007 hiring has been in the middle and back office, and that 2008 will see a continued push into commodities.

Antony Broadbent, an analyst at Sanford Bernstein in London, says it's fairly inevitable that Bar Cap will eliminate at least some staff: "We're clearly seeing some downsizing elsewhere in areas like structured credit that Barclays Capital is fairly active in. I'd be surprised if they don't have any belt tightening in the months to come."

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