Citigroup set to launch investment banking business in Saudi Arabia

Citigroup Saudi Arabia obtained a capital markets license in April enabling its return to the kingdom after an absence of almost 13 years. (Reuters)
Updated 23 January 2018
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Citigroup set to launch investment banking business in Saudi Arabia

DUBAI: Citigroup has won formal approval from Saudi Arabia’s Capital Market Authority to begin investment banking business there, the US bank said on Tuesday.
More than a dozen foreign banks have licenses to operate branches in Saudi Arabia, battling for business resulting from the kingdom’s reforms to wean its economy off oil revenues.
Citi was among the banks invited to pitch for roles in the stock market listing of Saudi oil company Aramco, sources told Reuters earlier this month, in an initial public offering (IPO) that aims to raise $100 billion.
“Saudi Arabia is a regional economic leader and a strategically important market for Citi,” Citigroup chief executive Mike Corbat said in a statement.
Citigroup Saudi Arabia, which obtained a capital markets license in April enabling its return to the Kingdom after an absence of almost 13 years, said it had held its inaugural board meeting in Riyadh.
Citigroup pulled out of Saudi Arabia after five decades in 2004 when it sold its 20 percent stake in Samba Financial Group , reallocating capital to core investments.
But in 2015 it won permission from the Saudi Arabian regulator to invest directly in the local stock market, the first step in its return.
And last year it obtained a license that allows it to provide services such as investment banking, debt and equity capital markets as well as securities research to its local and international institutional clients.
“Today’s board meeting is a culmination of efforts to re-establish an onshore operation serving our client base,” Carmen Haddad, Citi’s Country Officer-Saudi Arabia, said.
Haddad told Reuters late last year that the bank wants to hire up to 20 bankers in Saudi Arabia to capitalize on investment banking opportunities that arise from the Kingdom’s economic reform program.
Saudi Aramco has also appointed Citi to lead a $2 billion financing backed by Britain, guaranteed by UK Export Finance, the British export credit agency.


Iran anti-money laundering law faces challenge as deadline looms

Updated 18 August 2018
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Iran anti-money laundering law faces challenge as deadline looms

  • Iran has been trying to implement standards set by the Financial Action Task Force
  • Foreign businesses say legislation that includes FATF guidelines is essential if they are to increase investment

DUBAI: A top Iranian constitutional body has demanded changes to anti-money laundering measures passed by parliament, state-run media said on Saturday, as Tehran nears a deadline to pass legislation to help it attract investment while facing USsanctions.
Iran has been trying to implement standards set by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), an inter-governmental organization which underpins regimes combatting money laundering and terrorist financing. It hopes it will be removed from a blacklist that makes some foreign investors reluctant to deal with it.
In June, FATF said Iran had until October to complete the reforms or face consequences that could further deter investors from the country, which has already been hit by the return of US sanctions. {nL5N1UY39D]
Hard-liners in parliament have opposed legislation aimed at moving toward compliance with FATF standards, arguing it could hamper Iranian financial support for allies such as Lebanon’s Hezbollah, which the United States has classified as a terrorist organization.
The Guardian Council, which vets legislation passed by parliament for compliance with the constitution, objected to four items in the anti-money laundering amendments and returned the measure to parliament, spokesman Abbas Ali Kadkhodaei was quoted by the judiciary’s news agency Mizan as saying.
Kadkhodaei did not give details of the four items, according to Mizan.
Earlier this month, the Guardian Council approved legal amendments on combating the funding of terrorism.
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said in June parliament should pass legislation to combat money laundering according to its own criteria.
Foreign businesses say legislation that includes FATF guidelines is essential if they are to increase investment.