BMO Financial Group has set up shop in Abu Dhabi to seek greater business with sovereign wealth funds and central banks in the Gulf, as the UAE's relations with Canada continue to thaw.
The Canadian bank, which manages about US$600 million (Dh2.2 billion) of assets in the region, wants to expand its regional asset-management business to about $10bn in the Gulf within five years.
The bank is calculating that a desire for strongly capitalised and well-regulated financial firms as trading partners will help to drive its growth in the region, said William Downe, the president and chief executive of BMO.
"Trust comes from what you have done, not what you say you have done," he said. "There have been many disappointments that have been experienced in the last five or six years that go to the consistency, transparency and liquidity that advisers have brought to the equation."
Failures at financial firms including Lehman Brothers and MF Global of the United States have forced banks to reassess their trading partners for so-called counterparty risk. Goldman Sachs, another Wall Street titan, has faced challenges to its reputationafter allegations that the firm had bet against its institutional clients.
In contrast to many other banks that have chosen Dubai as home for their regional operations, BMO has established operations in Abu Dhabi. Its office is in Al Mamoura Building, which is also home to Mubadala Development, a strategic investment company owned by the Abu Dhabi Government.
The advance comes amid a warming in relations between the UAE and Canada, as both nations attempt to mend fences after a lengthy dispute over landing rights for UAE airlines at Canadian airports.
The lender's business with central banks and sovereign wealth funds in the region had been a key driver of its growth, particularly in trading foreign currencies and gold bullion.
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