Credit Suisse Said to Cut Dubai Investment Banking Business

Looking toward Qatar and Saudi Arabia for investment opportunities

Credit Suisse Group AG, whose second-largest shareholder is the Qatar Investment Authority, is cutting its investment banking business in Dubai to focus on Qatar and Saudi Arabia, a person familiar with the matter said.

Two bankers will move to Doha from Dubai as part of plans to shift the regional investment banking department headquarters to Qatar, the person said, asking not to be named as the news isn’t public. The bank will also cut about three positions in Dubai and transfer another as it moves its equities business to Riyadh, the person said. Bassam Yammine, MENA investment banking department co-head, already left the bank, the person said.

Qatar and Credit Suisse are boosting ties after the nation took a 6 percent stake in the Zurich-based bank, bought its London headquarters and formed asset manager Aventicum Capital Management. The country, which has the world’s third-largest gas reserves, is snapping up assets to reduce its energy dependency and has $30 billion to invest this year, Qatar Investment Authority board member Hussain Al Abdulla said in April.

“Credit Suisse remains committed to providing a range of banking services to the MENA region,” the bank said yesterday in a statement in response to questions on the cuts, referring to the Middle East and North Africa region. “We continue to be proactive about monitoring the size of our business relative to client opportunities and market conditions. This involves realigning resources to growth areas and adjusting capacity to meet client needs and to manage costs across our businesses.”

Cost Cuts

The bank said in October it will trim an additional 1 billion francs ($1.09 billion) in annual costs by the end of 2015, adding to a 1 billion-franc savings program from July and 2 billion-franc cut in expenses achieved since last year.

Credit Suisse rose 0.9 percent to 22.72 Swiss francs as of 2:28 p.m. in Zurich, after earlier gaining 1.5 percent.

The bank announced in November 2011 that it was planning to expand in Qatar this year by providing asset-management services to local and international investors. The bank’s board of directors met in Qatar about a year ago and earlier this year shifted staff to Doha from Dubai, two people familiar with the matter said in September.

Credit Suisse has only been an underwriter for two bond deals in the Gulf Cooperation Council valued at $67 million, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. This makes it the 40th underwriter in the region out of 46, the data shows.

Industry Slump

Credit Suisse Chief Executive Officer Brady Dougan is trimming staff to pare costs amid an industrywide slump that’s prompted more than 300,000 job losses in the past two years. The bank last month shook up its investment-banking unit to speed the process, merging asset management with the private bank.

The government-run Qatar Financial Center Authority, charged with expanding the country’s financial services industry, announced a strategy in 2010 to make Qatar a hub for asset management and reinsurance.

Hasnain Malik, Citigroup’s head of research for the Middle East and North Africa, left the bank in recent weeks and won’t be replaced, according to two people familiar with the matter, asking not to be named as the departure wasn’t made public.

 
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