HONG KONG (Reuters) - China's CITIC Securities is cutting the base salary of more than 100 bankers at its offshore platform CLSA amid a drop in deal making and pressure to narrow the pay gap with its onshore operations, two people with knowledge of the matter said.

In an unusual move for an industry where base pay is not subject to market conditions and bonus variations are more common, CLSA started notifying its investment bankers on Wednesday that their salary will immediately be cut by 15% to 30%, the two people said.

About 110 Hong Kong-headquartered bankers are affected, according to the people, who declined to be named as they are not authorised to speak to the media.

It is the first time a Chinese investment bank has cut base salaries outside of its home market and comes with an uncertain outlook for Chinese companies' near-term offshore dealmaking.

CLSA and Beijing-headquartered CITIC did not immediately reply to requests for comment.

The firm lowered base salaries across its investment banking division on the Chinese mainland by up to 15% in June 2023, adhering to Beijing's call to bridge income inequality in the financial sector.

Offshore bankers, despite being employed by the same banking group, can receive 20% to 50% more base pay than their mainland counterparts.

CITIC has also relocated dozens of bankers from CLSA in Hong Kong to the mainland since July last year.

International investors have shunned Chinese deals, put off by a slowing economy and volatile markets, and foreign and domestic banks' hopes of a rebound this year have dissipated.

Bank of America Corp, HSBC and Morgan Stanley have laid off dozens of their China bankers this year, after rounds of job cuts in 2023.

CITIC rival, Beijing-based China International Capital Corp (CICC) is planning to reduce its investment banking headcount by at least 10% this year, affecting more than 200 bankers, Reuters reported earlier this month.

At least $20 billion worth of Chinese firms' Hong Kong IPO proposals have been awaiting approval for months, according to Reuters calculations. Bankers close to those deals say most of the sizable ones are unlikely to launch soon.

(Reporting by Selena Li and Xie Yu in Hong Kong; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)

By Selena Li