x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Barclays plans further Middle East expansion; to hire more staff

Barclays said it plans further expansion in the Middle East and North Africa on rising demand for wealth management and investment banking services.

Barclays, which is cutting 3,700 jobs as it reduces costs by US$2.6 billion a year, said it plans further expansion in the Middle East and North Africa on rising demand for wealth management and investment banking services.

Barclays, which employees about 1,000 people in the region, expects to hire about 100 more this year and has a "healthy pipeline" of debt capital market and M&A deal mandates, John Vitalo, the bank's chief executive for the Middle East and North Africa, said.

The London-based bank announced global job cuts and a plan to cut costs last month as chief executive Antony Jenkins revamps the lender after its €290 million fine for interest-rate manipulation and first annual loss in two decades. In the Middle East, Barclays plans to hire in wealth management, investment banking and retail, and Vitalo said he's "cautiously optimistic" on the fee pool for capital markets and advisory.

"This region is one of the world's few macroeconomic bright spots and we're fortunate to be in a position to take advantage of that," Mr Vitalo said. "The 3,700 job cuts Anthony referred to are not targeted at the Middle East."

Barclays is among investment banks hiring after Europe's debt crisis led firms including Credit Suisse, Nomura Holdings and Morgan Stanley to trim their presence in the Middle East and North Africa. Economic expansion and high oil prices are driving prosperity in the region. Private wealth in the Middle East and Africa may rise 6.6 per cent annually to $6.1 trillion in 2016 as the region's oil-rich economies continue to prosper, the Boston Consulting Group said in June. Wealth in the region increased to $4.5tn last year, up 4.7 per cent from $4.3tn in 2010.

"That personal wealth is a great opportunity for our wealth management business, but also in the UAE for retail banking which is focused on the affluent sector," he said. "There's opportunity just about everywhere we look."

Mr Vitalo said the fee pool in the Middle East is recovering after falling "consistently" from its peak between 2007 and 2008 and he's "cautiously optimistic" on its growth for 2013.

 

* Bloomberg News