International banks are not viewing the Middle East with a huge amount of optimism. While revenues within investment banking have picked up in recent months, the story is still one of caution when it comes to naming new people on the ground in the Gulf. But, according to headhunters and the occasional public proclamation, these are the firms currently indulging in recruitment.
Whatever Barclays is doing globally – and that largely means cutting back senior bankers and making public statements on its new value system – the Middle East remains a region where the bank is expanding. It’s recruiting for its corporate bank and targeting double digit growth in its wealth management unit. More significantly, though, it’s hiring for its investment bank – Khaled Eldabag, who was most recently at Goldman Sachs in Dubai, has joined as co-head of investment banking in the MENA region for Barclays. This is a statement of intent – expect more hires to follow.
Morgan Stanley has shaken up its senior management with the appointment of Patrick Delivanis as head of investment banking for the MENA region earlier this year. Last year, it trimmed its Dubai-based staff as part of wider cuts globally and offloaded its wealth management business in the region to Credit Suisse, but more recently optimism is creeping in. Delivanis says the IPO market is on the up and sources suggest that the bank is eyeing hires at the junior end in the region.
SocGen is on the expansion trail again in the Middle East, looking to deploy more capital in the region and, importantly, add more heads. “We are going to selectively recruit more people on the ground in certain areas of expertise to accompany the growth of our business flow, and deploy more resources in the region,” Frédéric Oudéa, the bank’s chairman and chief executive told Gulf News. In particular, the bank intends to focus on structured finance and project finance within its wholesale banking business.
JPMorgan tops the league tables so far this year in just about every region and across most business areas. The Middle East has been an area of focus for steady recruitment for the bank throughout 2014 and this isn’t stopping. However, the current focus is staffing up in Saudi Arabia, including junior to mid-level investment bankers and technologists.
UBS has switched its representative office from Dubai to Abu Dhabi, which suggests that the Swiss bank is continuing its retraction from the Middle East in line with curbing some investment banking activity globally. However, there are some reasons for optimism – it might be moving its regional epicentre from the DIFC, but it also said (without elaboration) that it would be “strengthening its services” in the office and the relocation of Alberto Palombi, head of the bank’s sovereign wealth fund division, in April shows UBS still views the Middle East as a market with growth potential.