x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

DIFC growth reflects desire for presence in Gulf region

The number of employees working in the DIFC swelled during 2012 as new companies set up shop, even as the global banking sector shrunk.

Staff numbers at DIFC-based companies grew by 16 per cent in the past year to about 14,000. Jaime Puebla / The National
Staff numbers at DIFC-based companies grew by 16 per cent in the past year to about 14,000. Jaime Puebla / The National

It is getting harder to find a table for lunch at the Dubai International Financial Centre.

The number of employees working in the DIFC swelled during last year as new companies set up shop, even as the global banking sector shrunk and financial sector jobs were culled by the thousands globally.

But the centre is shaking off the "Dubai International Food Court" jibes that accompanied its launch, with staff numbers growing by 16 per cent in the past year to about 14,000, the centre said yesterday.

Dubai had become a key base for banks expanding globally and in the region, said Jeffrey Singer, the chief executive of the DIFC Authority. "The growth we have witnessed within DIFC reflects the ongoing demand among international businesses for a presence in the region," he said.

"By capitalising on our world-class infrastructure and internationally recognised legislative and regulatory framework, we are creating a platform for global and regional companies to build fruitful and sustainable business relationships within a comprehensive financial environment."

The number of registered financial firms grew by 4.1 per cent to 912 in the past year - despite investment banks and asset managers facing headwinds worldwide. The UK's financial industry will lose 43,000 jobs in six months, according to a forecast from the Confederation of British Industry, as companies shrink and reduce costs.

Banks, insurers, asset managers and other finance firms probably cut 25,000 positions in the last three months of 2012 and might eliminate 18,000 jobs in the first quarter of this year, according to a study by Britain's biggest business lobby group and PricewaterhouseCoopers, published yesterday.

Global cuts at financial firms have exceeded 115,000 since 2012 as they seek to control compensation expenses and retreat from capital-intensive businesses, according to data compiled by Bloomberg News.

Morgan Stanley, with securities operations in London, plans to eliminate about 1,600 jobs from its investment bank and support staff in the coming weeks, a person with direct knowledge of the matter said on January 9. New York-based Citigroup said in December that it would cut more than 11,000 jobs and pull back from some emerging markets to curb costs.

"What you're seeing is exiting of certain product lines, geographies or restructuring their activities. On the other end you have demands on them for regulation," said Kevin Burrowes, UK financial-services leader at PwC.

ghunter@thenational.ae

* with Bloomberg News