Deutsche Bank yesterday opened an office in Abu Dhabi as international lenders look for new business with the emirate preparing to spend more than US$100 billion (Dh367.31bn) on infrastructure. The German banking giant's move into the capital is the latest sign of the country's changing financial services industry, as more foreign banks and brokerages move in to seek a slice of the business arising from the emirate's funding needs.
Deutsche Bank said it would focus on its foreign-based clients, but also serve large companies based in Abu Dhabi. "We have acted upon the needs of our clients both locally and globally over the past five years, delivering the products they require in order to grow their own businesses," said Henry Azzam, the bank's regional chief executive. Abu Dhabi has dedicated more than $100bn to infrastructure as it whittles down its economic dependence on petroleum and develops industries in renewable energy, tourism and manufacturing. At the same time, investment groups such as the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority and Government-related entities, including the Abu Dhabi National Energy Company and Aabar Investments, have spent billions of dollars on overseas acquisitions.
"Abu Dhabi has massive financing needs now," said Alexander von Pock, a consultant at AT Kearney. "If the volume of [new] business is sufficient to justify the opening of a new branch there, then a bank will do it." Deutsche Bank said the new branch would emphasise traditional commercial banking services such as trade financing, cash and securities management. Deutsche Bank is among the first foreign banks to receive a wholesale banking licence, which allows it to take non-retail deposits from companies and make loans.
"Take, for example, German mid-cap companies," said Werner Steinmueller, the head of global transaction banking at Deutsche Bank. "They are very active here. Some need help in setting up and some in growing their businesses. Or take the large German DAX-30 companies. They need a partner here." The bank would also offer its services to the top corporate names in Abu Dhabi, including quasi-government companies, Mr Steinmueller said. Deutsche Bank opened similar wholesale banking branches in Ukraine and China recently.
"Abu Dhabi came in there as latecomer," said Mr Von Pock. "But it has definitely caught up in relation to Dubai if you compare it with a few years ago when Dubai was in many ways leading the developments in the region." Deutsche Bank has been in the UAE since 1999 and has one onshore office, Deutsche Bank Securities and Services in Dubai, and one offshore branch in the Dubai International Financial Centre.