Credit Suisse to cut Dubai banking business

The logo of Swiss bank Credit Suisse is seen at the company's headquarters in Zurich in this February 9, 2012, file photo. (REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann/Files)

Credit Suisse Group AG, whose second-largest shareholder is the Qatar Investment Authority, is cutting its investment banking business in Dubai to focus on Qatar and Saudi Arabia, a person familiar with the matter said.

Two bankers will move to Doha from Dubai as part of plans to shift the regional investment banking department headquarters to Qatar, the person said, asking not to be named as the news isn’t public. The bank will also cut about three positions in Dubai and transfer another as it moves its equities business to Riyadh, the person said. Bassam Yammine, MENA investment banking department co-head, already left the bank, the person said.

Qatar and Credit Suisse are boosting ties after the nation took a 6 percent stake in the Zurich-based bank, bought its London headquarters and formed asset manager Aventicum Capital Management.

The country, which has the world’s third-largest gas reserves, is snapping up assets to reduce its energy dependency and has $30 billion to invest this year, Qatar Investment Authority board member Hussain Al Abdulla said in April.

“Credit Suisse remains committed to providing a range of banking services to the MENA region,” the bank said Monday in a statement in response to questions on the cuts, referring to the Middle East and North Africa region. “We continue to be proactive about monitoring the size of our business relative to client opportunities and market conditions. This involves realigning resources to growth areas and adjusting capacity to meet client needs and to manage costs across our businesses.”

The bank said in October it will trim an additional 1 billion francs ($1.09 billion) in annual costs by the end of 2015, adding to a 1 billion-franc savings program from July and 2 billion-franc cut in expenses achieved since last year.

Credit Suisse announced in November 2011 that it was planning to expand in Qatar this year by providing asset-management services to local and international investors. The bank’s board of directors met in Qatar about a year ago and earlier this year shifted staff to Doha from Dubai, two people familiar with the matter said in September.

Credit Suisse Chief Executive Officer Brady Dougan is trimming staff to pare costs amid an industrywide slump that’s prompted more than 300,000 job losses in the past two years. The bank last month shook up its investment-banking unit to speed the process, merging asset management with the private bank.

The government-run Qatar Financial Center Authority, charged with expanding the country’s financial services industry, announced a strategy in 2010 to make Qatar a hub for asset management and reinsurance.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on December 18, 2012, on page 5.




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