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briefing REgional tREnDs, analysis anD viEws


The reTurn of remoTe bankers cash drought


shrinking investment fees have forced global firms to send bankers home from the uae. but will they be welcome back?


tExt By Ryan HaRRison B


ATTERED, BRUISED AND growing weaker, the Gulf’s investment banking sector is in a sorry state. In the past few months the signs of alarm have multiplied, with some analysts suggesting that the sky is falling. Stock market volumes have sunk to all-time lows and M&A deal activity has almost dried up. Meanwhile, concerns are mounting over the health of the global economy, in particular the


30 / DECEMBER 2011


calamitous Eurozone. International investment banks that spent the Gulf’s boom years hiring and the post-recession period firing are now retreating fast. In the past few months, Crédit Agricole, Deutsche Bank and Citigroup have all relocated their top playmakers back to London. Perhaps the most high profile was


Deutsche Bank’s Christopher Laing, head of equity capital markets for the Middle East and Africa, who was moved back to London after three years in Dubai. Citi’s regional head of equities Adam Key was also sent home to the UK. Others, like Nomura and Goldman


Sachs, have cut jobs in equity-related roles. International banks are growing


increasingly tetchy with the outlook for


the region and are unwilling to maintain significant regional teams, recruitment experts say. “You’re going to see the return of suitcase banking, with bankers flying in when a deal emerges,” said Ally Ho, head of the Middle East financial services practice at Pedersen & Partners, a Dubai executive search firm. “Most institutions in 2008 said we’ll give it two years and make a decision. What we’ve seen over the last year is those decisions being made. Most people have tried to string it out, but last year was extremely difficult for deals and now they don’t have a choice,” she added. Suitcase banking worked in the region


for a period until around 2007, when it became apparent that banks needed to cultivate relationships with local


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