Bloomberg will almost double its Dubai workforce to 90 over the next 12 months as the financial and banking sectors targeted by the provider of financial data and news regain momentum, according to its chairman. Peter Grauer also expects to grow the number of regional terminals by at least 2 per cent this year as sales begin to pick up.
"The pipeline is healthier today. Removals are down as a result of stabilising head counts [at banks]. The prospect pipeline is starting to grow again. [Banks are] taking on a more welcoming attitude toward the future." As a policy, Bloomberg does not reveal the number of its terminals but the company has installed 2 per cent more in the first nine months of this month compared with a year earlier, Mr Grauer said.
Although job losses at regional banks have been less pronounced than they have been in Europe and the US, many have laid off staff and begun to cut costs. The sale of the terminals is seen as a yardstick for the health of the financial-services industry as banks tend to reduce the number of terminals when business slows. Regional growth contrasts sharply with a global decline in terminal sales expected for this year, Mr Grauer said. Global sales of terminals are down 2.8 per cent in the first eight months.
"We expect it to be down modestly in 2009 but we will be pleased how we come out of the year," he said. "The global economy will take longer to rebound, it will be a period of slower growth, after the turmoil that consumers and the economy have gone through in the past 24 months. Overall growth will be a bit slower going forward following the consolidation of the financial sector in the past 12 to 24 months."
Globally, Bloomberg will add 11 per cent, or 1,100 people to its head count this year. "For us this is a period of unprecedented opportunities. We have the financial resources to do it. As a private company we are not worried about quarter-on-quarter performance," Mr Grauer said. Last year, Bloomberg decided to make Dubai a regional hub as part of a broader plan to focus more on emerging markets. The three to five-year plan will focus on four areas.
Regionally, it will target Islamic finance which Bloomberg started to cover from Singapore four years ago. It will also seek to boost growth in Saudi Arabia and become a leader in equity and over-the-counter contracts. In addition, Bloomberg is striving to add more local content by adding tools to search Arabic websites and hiring more Arabic-speaking staff, among others. Recently, many regional newswires and service providers have started to focus on adding local and Arabic content.
Dubai is Bloomberg's 10th regional hub, alongside its headquarters in New York and other regional offices including London, San Francisco, Sao Paulo and Tokyo. The regional staff of 90 will include journalists, sales people and dedicated data people, who used to service local clients from London. The Dubai office grew to 50 from 12 people a year ago. Michael Bloomberg, who is now the mayor of New York City, created Bloomberg in the early 1980s.
The company has 145 news bureaus in 68 countries. A Bloomberg terminal costs US$1,590 (Dh5,840) monthly, a fee that is adjusted to account for inflation every two years. firstname.lastname@example.org