Citigroup’s Chief Country Officer said that MSCI’s move to include Saudi stocks in emerging-market indexes will boost trading and the lender wants to be ready.
Sunday 19, May 2019
(Bloomberg) --Citigroup plans to hire about five more bankers in Saudi Arabia as it prepares for an expected increase in foreign investment in the Kingdom’s stock exchange.
Carmen Haddad, the Citigroup’s Chief Country Officer, said that the lender is expanding its team in Riyadh after getting regulatory approval last month to start cash-equities trading and custody services.
“We’ve had about 14-15 people on the ground and that will grow to about 20 this year,” Haddad said.
“We’re very focused on equities, custody, M&A, capital market debt and equity origination, research and advisory business. we will add a few traders and some middle office staff this year as a result of getting the permission to provide cash equity and custody services, and those should be operational in a few months,” added Haddad.
Citigroup lost a Saudi Arabian presence that dated back to 1955 when the New York-based lender sold a stake in Samba Financial Group in 2004.
The move left a gap for rivals such as JPMorgan Chase & Co and HSBC Holdings as the Kingdom rolled out an economic transformation plan to wean itself off oil. A companywide push to get back in paid off in 2017, when Citigroup received an investment-banking licence, allowing it to advise on local initial public offerings (IPO) and acquisitions.
Since then, the bank has won mandates on some of the biggest deals in the country, such as the sale of a 70 per cent stake in SABIC to oil giant Saudi Aramco, working as a bookrunner on Aramco’s $12 billion bond sale and advising Zain Saudi Arabia on the $672 million sale of its mobile towers to IHS Holding.
However, an influx of global investment banks has weighed on fees as the likes of Goldman Sachs Group, Credit Suisse Group and Deutsche Bank look to bolster teams as the Kingdom gets ready to privatise assets, raise more debt and open up to foreign investors.