First Abu Dhabi Bank (FAB), the UAE’s largest bank, received a license from Saudi Arabia’s Capital Market Authority to offer investment banking services in the kingdom, joining a host of foreign banks scurrying for business in the Arab world’s biggest economy.
FAB, formed from last year’s merger between National Bank of Abu Dhabi and First Gulf Bank, will establish a subsidiary that "will provide arranging and advisory services throughout the kingdom to both KSA corporate clients and institutions looking to access international markets,” it said in a statement.
FAB is among a host of lenders expanding their footprint in Saudi Arabia. The kingdom is courting bankers as it embarks on an economic overhaul programme aimed at wooing foreign investors and privatising state-run industries, including selling a five per cent stake in Saudi Aramco, the world’s biggest oil producer.
“This is a landmark development for both FAB Group and our market-leading Corporate and Investment Banking (CIB) franchise, which opens up significant opportunities for our customers to grow,” said Abdulhamid Saeed, group chief executive of FAB. “This development will strengthen FAB’s ability to tap into one of the largest economies and capital markets in the MENA region. As a leader in the investment banking sector, we look forward to bringing our comprehensive product suite to KSA clients as well as those looking to access the Saudi and international markets.”
Saudi Arabia has attracted a number of international lenders who are keen to partake in its economic programmes aimed at weaning the kingdom off oil income.
Citi said in January it got the go ahead from the CMA to start investment banking services in the kingdom.
Citigroup Saudi Arabia received last year a capital markets license that enabled it to return to the kingdom after a 13-year hiatus.
Few international lenders operate in Saudi Arabia, including Deutsche Bank, JP Morgan and BNP Paribas.