x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Denmark’s Saxo Bank eyes Formula One sponsorship

Saxo Bank plans to roll out one of its flagship trading products with a UAE bank as it benefits from a renewed desire among high net worth individuals to mange their wealth directly.

Riders of Saxo-Tinkoff team cross at the Tour de France race this year. Pascal Guyot / AFP
Riders of Saxo-Tinkoff team cross at the Tour de France race this year. Pascal Guyot / AFP

Saxo Bank is considering investing in the sponsorship of a leading Formula One racing team, according to the bank’s chief executive.

“I would like to dip my toe into the water with Formula One but I need to find a modest way of trying it out,” said Lars Christensen, the CEO, while in Abu Dhabi to attend this weekend’s Grand Prix.

“There’s a possibility you might see us as a small sponsor. In all sports you have to be at the top of the game and it would have to be with one of the bigger teams.”

For five years the bank has sponsored a cycling team owned by the 1996 Tour de France winner Bjarne Riis, which helped raise Saxo Bank’s profile in the mass market, said Mr Christensen.

The cycling team ranked sixth in the International Cycling Union’s 2013 world ranking.

“There are also some high-net-worth opportunities in cycling as it is very much becoming the new golf for some in the hedge fund industry,” Mr Christensen said.

As part of Saxo Bank’s global push to attract rich customers, he said it would refine its marketing budget next year.

Away from sport, Saxo Bank plans to partner with a UAE bank to offer a flagship trading product to exploit rich people’s desire to manage their wealth directly.

The Middle East currently accounts for 8 or 9 per cent of the Danish investment bank’s global revenues, Mr Christensen said.

While Europe and Asia Pacific account for a bigger share of the bank’s business, Mr Christensen said there was potential for the Middle East’s share to grow by several percentage points.

“This region is clearly one where you have high-net-worth individuals,” he said. “There’s a higher concentration of bigger clients compared to western Europe, where we have a broader investment basis.”

Mr Christensen said the bank had “good traction” with its White Label trading platform in the region. And it was in the process of providing the platform to a UAE bank which he declined to name.

White Label – aimed at banks, brokerages and other finance companies – enables financial institutions to offer customers access to financial markets through an online trading product.

Cheaper than designing their own products, the platform allows banks to outsource their post-trading processes and other back-office operations to Saxo.

However, customers would see only the local bank’s branding, while Saxo’s role remains hidden.

In recent years, investors have become more comfortable in taking a hands-on approach to managing their wealth in the wake of financial scandals such as the US$85 billion Ponzi scheme of the disgraced financier Bernard Madoff.