Dubai picking up mantle of world financial capital

by David Westley on Saturday, 24 May 2008


International banks are moving top positions to Dubai has the credit crisis continues to take its toll in the West. (Supplied)

Dubai is picking up the mantle of the financial capital of the world, as global banking sectors London and New York continue to fade on the back of the global credit crises.

The new mantra in New York and London is “Dubai, Mumbai, Shanghai or goodbye”, as job losses mount in both cities while opportunities in the east continue to rise.

Lehman Brothers on Tuesday became the latest investment bank moving one of its most senior positions to the UAE. Philip Lynch, the bank’s co-head of equities for Europe and the Middle East, will be relocating to Dubai after serving more than two decades in London.

The US investment bank, which has axed over 6,000 staff in the last nine months, said the move was aimed at serving the growing needs of clients in the Gulf region and the wider Middle East.

Lynch will find himself in good company. Barclays last month dispatched Roger Jenkins, one of London’s highest-paid bankers, to the emirate as chairman of investment banking and investment management.

Earlier in May Citigroup, which has so far cut 1,500 jobs because of the global credit crisis, announced it would send Alberto Verme, co-head of global investment banking from London to Dubai.

He follows Makram Azar, head of the media, consumer and retail investment banking team in Europe and the Middle East, to take the role of global head of sovereign wealth funds.

The bank has also switched Perry Hoffmeister, co-head of investment banking for Europe and the Middle East, to run its investment management arm across the same regions.

The relocation of roles from London and New York to Dubai, and to a lesser extent Mumbai and Shanghai, reflects the reshaping of global opportunities for investment banks.

With a surge in oil revenue, rapidly rising infrastructure needs, and the emergence of sovereign wealth funds at the head of M&A activity, the Middle East and Asia have become crucial for global investment banks looking to remain profitable.

Vikram Pandit, Citigroup’s chief executive, is on record as saying the Middle East is the bank’s priority in its focus on growth opportunities overseas.

Countries in the GCC will spend $1.5 trillion on infrastructure in the five years, according to figures published by Société Générale Asset Management, based on research by HSBC Global Research, Middle East Business Intelligence and Thomson Datastream.

Cerulli Associates, a US and Singapore-based research firm, estimated total managed assets in the six GCC countries and Egypt to be more than $1.6 trillion at the end of last year.


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