Israel’s Bank Leumi has announced plans to further trim its workforce by about 500 to 600 in a bid to improve operational efficiency.

The downsizing exercise will be executed through a voluntary retirement programme, and is slated to be completed by the end of 2017.

The retiring employees represent around 5% of the bank’s total workforce. They will be provided early pension arrangement up until the legal retirement age, or extended severance compensation.

The bank expects the move to cost between NIS500m ($141.4m) and NIS600m ($169.7m) that will be spread over five years.

The latest move, which had already secured the board nod, comes on top of another downsizing programme that led to the departure of around 2,200 employees between 2012 and 2016. The reduction, along with other measures, helped the bank improve its cost-income ratio to 65% in the first quarter of 2017 from 72% in 2012.

Apart from workforce reduction, Leumi is also carrying out process improvements, business line consolidation, and technological upgrades, as well as decreasing its usage of real estate. It expects all these measures to further improve its cost-income ratio.

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By GlobalData

Bank Leumi CEO Rakefet Russak-Aminoach said: “Along with the focus on the bank’s core business, the continuing efficiency process, is a significant pillar in adapting the bank to the changing, competitive and dynamic environment. As always, the retirement process will be carried out in consideration and full cooperation with Leumi’s employees’ representatives.”