Citi appoints first female chief for its Mena operations

Elissar Farah Antonios joined the third-largest US bank in 2005 and has more than 25 years of financial services experience in the region

Citigroup appointed Elissar Farah Antonios as head of its Middle East and North Africa business, making her the first woman to lead one of the fastest-growing region's in the bank's emerging markets portfolio.

Ms Antonios joined the third-largest US bank in 2005 as head of Citi Private Bank in Abu Dhabi and has more than 25 years of experience in the region'S financial services industry, the lender said in a statement on Wednesday.

She will continue her role as Citi's country officer for the UAE, a position she undertook in 2016. Ms Antonios has also led the lender's operations in the UAE, Levant and Iraq since 2019.

She will report to Atiq Rehman, who heads the bank's Europe, Middle East and Africa's emerging markets operations.

The move came after Citigroup named Jane Fraser as its next chief executive in September, making her the first woman to lead any major global bank. Her promotion from head of consumer operations was praised as a step in the right direction for the male-dominated finance industry that has little diversity at its highest ranks.

Women make up 20 per cent of company executive committees and 23 per cent of boards in the finance industry in 2019, according to Oliver Wyman.

"There is still a long way to go to create an industry in which women have equal access to opportunity and positive outcomes," the consultancy said in a recent report on women in the financial services industry.