Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria has halved the size of its equities team in Asia, which has a strong focus on selling products to institutional investors. This comes as part of a cull in December of one-third of its 85 global markets staff in the region.

Spain's second biggest bank has slashed the equity derivatives team in Hong Kong to 12 from 26 – BBVA doesn’t have a cash equities business in Asia. That accounts for 14 of the 29 departures from the global markets team across Hong Kong, Singapore and Tokyo.

This comes following news broken by AsianInvestor last week of a slew of equities staff cuts at the UK's RBS, with further reductions expected across the board at investment banks.

Among the BBVA departures were Richard Harman, a senior executive in equity derivatives sales and structuring, and equity derivatives trader Justin Chang, along with other salespeople and structurers. Eugene Lee remains in place as head of equities.

The team’s chief focus is on institutional and wholesale clients, such as insurance firms, pension funds, private banks and sovereign wealth funds.

Harman took up the BBVA post in July, having previously been Asia-Pacific head of retail structuring at RBS. He had held that role since January 2010, before which he spent nine years at Citi in Hong Kong and Tokyo and, prior to that, eight years at the Jardine Fleming Group.

Chang has also worked as an equity derivatives trader at HSBC and as an analyst at Goldman Sachs.

BBVA has decided to retain the equity derivatives platform but reduce it to a level that makes sense given the environment and the current size of the market in Asia, say sources familiar with the firm. It is also retaining its focus on emerging markets in Latin America and emerging Europe.

Another departure from the Asia global markets team is Pasha D’Silva, head of business development and strategy for Asia global markets, who has moved to a relationship management role in Abu Dhabi.

BBVA established its first branch in Asia in Hong Kong in 1985 and also has branches in Singapore and Tokyo, and representative offices in Beijing, Mumbai, Seoul, Shanghai, Sydney and Taipei.

The bank declined to comment for this article.