Credit Suisse to hire pri­vate bankers for Saudi Ara­bia push

Muscat Daily - - BUSINESS -

Zurich, Switzer­land - Credit Suisse Group AG is plan­ning to hire more re­la­tion­ship man­agers in Saudi Ara­bia, join­ing ri­vals in­clud­ing Deutsche Bank AG in des­ig­nat­ing the coun­try as a pri­or­ity for their wealth man­age­ment busi­ness.

The re­cruit­ment drive comes af­ter the Zurich-based bank es­tab­lished a plat­form al­low­ing it to of­fer pri­vate bank­ing ser­vices and prod­ucts in the coun­try, ac­cord­ing to an emailed state­ment from the com­pany.

“Credit Suisse is fur­ther ex­pand­ing and in­vest­ing in its busi­ness in Saudi Ara­bia, a key growth mar­ket and of great im­por­tance to in­ter­na­tional wealth man­age­ment,” Bruno Da­her, head of that busi­ness in the Mid­dle East, said in the state­ment. “We con­sider the on­shore pri­vate bank­ing pres­ence as a nat­u­ral pro­gres­sion to fur­ther build our lo­cal foot­print.’’

The Swiss lender is among global banks seek­ing to profit from an ex­pected surge in pri­vate wealth in Saudi Ara­bia, where the gov­ern­ment is look­ing to en­list the pri­vate sec­tor in its plan to di­ver­sify the econ­omy away from oil. Deutsche Bank is pre­par­ing to ‘mas­sively ex­pand’ its prod­uct of­fer­ing and hire re­la­tion­ship man­agers in the king­dom, Peter Hin­der, head of EMEA Wealth Man­age­ment, said in an in­ter­view this month.

Credit Suisse con­tin­ues to seek a bank­ing li­cense for Saudi Ara­bia that would al­low it to open branches in the king­dom. JP­Mor­gan Chase & Co, Deutsche Bank AG and BNP Paribas SA al­ready have such li­censes, while HSBC Hold­ings Plc, Royal Bank of Scot­land Group Plc and Credit Agri­cole SA op­er­ate in the coun­try through mi­nor­ity stakes in lo­cal lenders.

The Zurich-based lender has al­lo­cated about US$600mn of its cap­i­tal to ex­pand in the Gulf na­tion, peo­ple fa­mil­iar with the mat­ter said early this year. The bank, which has a se­cu­ri­ties and eq­ui­ties busi­ness in the king­dom, plans to use some of the money to of­fer in­vestors Lom­bard loans, which are backed by liq­uid as­sets such as stocks, the peo­ple said. Such loans could help fa­cil­i­tate trad­ing in lo­cal eq­ui­ties, they said.

Saudi Ara­bia is tak­ing steps to make the Mid­dle East’s big­gest stock mar­ket more at­trac­tive as it read­ies an ini­tial pub­lic of­fer­ing for state oil com­pany Saudi Aramco. Last month the coun­try passed a ma­jor bar­rier to be­ing clas­si­fied by MSCI Inc as an emerg­ing mar­ket, an achieve­ment that may draw bil­lions of dol­lars to its traded com­pa­nies through even­tual in­clu­sion in some global stock in­dexes.

Credit Suisse turned its fo­cus to wealth man­age­ment af­ter CEO Tid­jane Thiam took over at the Swiss lender in 2015. The in­ter­na­tional wealth man­age­ment unit led by Iqbal Khan, which in­cludes the Mid­dle East, said pre­tax profit fell 3 per cent to US$305mn in first quar­ter.

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