x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Shuaa looks to turn tide

The travails of Shuaa Capital chronicles the Catch-22 of the regional industry, whose fortunes have been so closely tied to the ebb and flow of local stock markets.

Shuaa Capital was once known as the UAE's biggest investment bank, but it has been four years since it turned an annual profit. In that time it has accumulated losses of almost Dh2 billion (US$544.4 million) - or about twice as much as it made in the previous four years.

The travails of the company, which generated just Dh6.8m of revenue from its investment banking operation last year, chronicles the Catch-22 of the regional industry, whose fortunes have been so closely tied to the ebb and flow of local stock markets - which have offered more ebb than flow for the past three years.

Shuaa hopes to turn its ailing business around by focusing on areas where it believes it has a market advantage - asset management, corporate advisory, small and medium enterprise finance and institutional brokerage.

That will involve more job losses at the firm. Some 55 jobs will go in the first half, mainly from its brokerage business as it embarks on what it describes as a "right-sizing programme".

With little prospect of a substantial rebound in equity markets, and with it a flood of new share sales, the question for Shuaa and other regional investment banks is what the right size should be.

* Sean Cronin

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