The company is eliminating about 50 positions in its investment banking group as part of the exit that was announced to staff on Monday, according to a person with direct knowledge of the situation who asked not to be identified because the information isn’t public. A handful of corporate bankers will manage BMO’s U.S. oil and gas loan book, the person said.
BMO is the latest bank to halt investment banking tied to U.S. oil and gas explorers, which even before the pandemic were facing pressure after years of generating meager returns. The move didn’t appear to be related to ESG concerns plaguing fossil fuel companies. America’s shale industry has been swept up in a wave of consolidation in recent months as the pandemic slashes oil demand, drags down prices and forces low-premium mergers. That follows years of lackadaisical M&A activity in the oil patch.
BMO’s U.S. oil and gas loan book was about $5.4 billion (C$7 billion) as of July 31, making up half of its overall oil and gas loans, according to a company presentation.