BA Asia Ltd., the Asian banking unit of BankAmerica Corp., has cut five people from its bond sales team, according to Bloomberg News Service. Business has slowed because of Asia's financial crisis, the news service said.

BankAmerica said last month that it would eliminate retail banking operations in India, Singapore, and Taiwan.

Three bond salesmen in Hong Kong, including sales chief Paul Liu, and two salesmen in Singapore had left the bank, Bloomberg reported. That would leave two people in fixed-income sales for the entire region.

The bank still has a staff of 12 in its Asian fixed-income origination, sales, research, and execution business, Bloomberg reported. The news service cited a BankAmerica spokeswoman in Hong Kong. American Banker could not reach BankAmerica executives to confirm the report.

Sales and trading of Asian bonds has slumped since 1997, when the regional's financial crisis began. Investors have avoided the bonds, fearful of default. As a result, several financial institutions, including Merrill Lynch & Co., Bear, Stearns & Co., and Nomura Securities Co., have reduced their bond sales staffs in the region.

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