Citi considers Saudi expansion as banks aim to capitalize on reforms

Citi has already played an active role in Saudi Arabian finance and was one of the banks that helped to arrange the government’s $11 billion bond issue last month. (Reuters)
Updated 02 May 2018
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Citi considers Saudi expansion as banks aim to capitalize on reforms

RIYADH: Citigroup is considering seeking a full banking license in Saudi Arabia as Western banks aim to capitalize on Saudi economic reforms, with rival HSBC announcing it has won mandates for several privatizations in the kingdom.
More than a dozen foreign banks have licenses to operate branches in Saudi Arabia, battling for business resulting from the kingdom’s efforts to itself off reliance on oil revenues.
US bank Citi ended a five-decade presence in Saudi Arabia in 2004 with the sale of its 20 percent stake in Samba Financial but in 2015 won permission to invest directly in the local stock market and in January this year gained approval to begin investment banking operations in the kingdom.
“We’re looking at whether or not we should expand our activities here into a full banking license,” James Forese, the president and chief executive of the bank’s institutional clients group, said at a business conference in Riyadh.
Other banks seeking a Saudi license include Credit Suisse, while Goldman Sachs plans to expand its services in the kingdom after being cleared to trade equities there.
The banks are vying for a role in Saudi Aramco’s planned initial public offering, which could float up to 5 percent of the state oil giant and make it the world’s biggest oil company by market capitalization.
Citi has already played an active role in Saudi Arabian finance and was one of the banks that helped to arrange the government’s $11 billion bond issue last month.
The kingdom is now working on a pipeline of privatizations aimed at generating up to 40 billion riyals ($10.7 billion) in non-oil revenues by 2020 and creating up to 12,000 jobs, according to an official document published last month.
HSBC has been mandated for several of the planned privatizations and will announce them very soon, Samir Assaf, HSBC’s chief executive of global banking and markets, said at Wednesday’s conference.
The bank is “very much contributing to the privatization program,” he said.
HSBC Saudi Arabia is already acting as an adviser on the sale process for the kingdom’s flour milling sector and the Saudi Stock Exchange’s planned flotation. It also has an advisory role on the proposed Aramco listing.


Petroleum Development Oman to help create job opportunities for 21,000 locals

Updated 51 min 53 sec ago
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Petroleum Development Oman to help create job opportunities for 21,000 locals

  • ‘We aim to create 21,000 job opportunities in 2019, and we are confident that we can achieve that number’

DUBAI: State-owned Petroleum Development Oman expects to create 21,000 job opportunities for Omanis this year through the oil exploration and production company’s training opportunities and other undertakings.

“We aim to create 21,000 job opportunities in 2019, and we are confident that we can achieve that number. These are real opportunities that lead to direct employment once the training is completed,” Raoul Restucci, the managing director of PDO, told the Times of Oman.

“A lot of the opportunities we are promoting today exist outside the oil and gas sector, whether it be in tourism, manufacture or logistics. While some of these jobs will be created by PDO, many of the Omanis will be employed by other organizations once they complete their PDO funded on-the-job training.”

The prospective jobs would be spread across multiple sectors – from oil and gas, manufacturing, tourism to logistics – as PDO works with the government in pushing the Omanization agenda.

PDO’s Restucci noted the company has already created more than 5,000 job opportunities so far this year. Meanwhile, the Omanization rate for PDO has reached 81 percent and the company’s target is to reach 90 percent by 2020.

“… the oil and gas sectors are highly Omanized, and where you have expatriates, is where you have a gap in skills, or more likely, experience,” Restucci said.