The Business Times

UBS to end local investment banking presence in Mena

Published Wed, Nov 2, 2022 · 04:45 PM

UBS Group is effectively closing its on-the-ground investment banking operations in the Middle East and North Africa, according to people familiar with the matter. 

The division’s last senior banker in the region tendered his resignation recently, the people said, asking not to be identified as the information is private. A decision to retreat from in-person operations was taken in recent weeks.

Instead, bankers and specialists from other jurisdictions such as US and UK will fly into the region to handle deals, they said. The Swiss lender will retain a local presence in the region through other divisions, including its wealth unit where it has continued to make hires.

A spokesperson for UBS declined to comment.

Departures at the investment banking team picked up after Michael Cleanis, a managing director and head of global banking for the region left the firm in March to join Abu Dhabi wealth fund Mubadala Investment. He had spent 12 years with UBS in Dubai, mainly covering the region’s sovereign wealth funds.

The Swiss lender has been scaling down investment banking operations in several emerging markets including India and South Africa. UBS restructured its dealmaking teams globally in 2019 when it elevated Javier Oficialdegui and Ros Stephenson to co-lead investment banking, which includes advising on corporate takeovers and raising funds through stock and bond sales. 

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The pullback from the Middle East and North Africa comes as some banks beef up their in-person presence to capture the increased deal activity. Investment banking activity has been picking up in the region, spurred by a raft of initial public offerings in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Saudi Arabia. 

UBS saw revenues at the investment-banking unit decline 19 per cent in the three months to September amid a broader slump in deal-making and equities. Advisory revenue fell 58 per cent. BLOOMBERG

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