CEO confirms Credit Suisse seeking Saudi banking license

Credit Suisse CEO Tidjane Thiam personally traveled to Saudi Arabia to apply for a banking license. (Reuters)
Updated 31 July 2018
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CEO confirms Credit Suisse seeking Saudi banking license

  • Originally won banking license in April
  • CEO made trip to make application in person

LONDON: Credit Suisse CEO Tidjane Thiam personally traveled to Saudi Arabia to apply for a banking license, he said on Tuesday, confirming Reuters information the Swiss bank is seeking a full banking license in the Middle East’s biggest economy.

“I have been to Riyadh, I met the head of SAMA (the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority), I made the application myself,” Thiam said in response to a query during the bank’s second-quarter news conference.

An increasing number of western banks and fund managers are looking to expand in the Kingdom since the government unveiled a transformation plan aimed at privatising vast swathes of the economy.

Citigroup got a Saudi investment banking license in April, which will allow it to return to the Kingdom after more than 13 years, while Goldman Sachs received approval last August to trade equities in Saudi Arabia.

Credit Suisse has been growing its team in Saudi Arabia and the UAE over the past year or so, with bankers added within wealth management, private banking and investment banking, according to LinkedIn.

However, Qatar Investment Authority owns a 4.94 percent stake in Credit Suisse and bankers had said in the past that the Swiss bank’s close ties with Doha could pose a risk for winning more Saudi business.

The UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Egypt imposed a boycott on Qatar in June 2017, severing diplomatic and transport ties and accusing it of supporting terrorism, which it denies.

Thiam on Tuesday denied facing any issues in the Kingdom related to the these ties.

“I can most categorically deny” that there have been delays or issues in the application process, he said. “There is no issue for Credit Suisse in Saudi Arabia.”


India names Modi demonetization backer as cenbank head

Visitors are seen standing next to a logo of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) at the bank's head office in Mumbai on December 5, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 12 December 2018
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India names Modi demonetization backer as cenbank head

  • Das — a high-profile backer of Modi’s controversial 2016 move to scrap high-value currency notes, known as demonetization

MUMBAI: Ex-finance ministry official Shaktikanta Das took charge of the Reserve Bank of India on Tuesday, in a swift appointment expected to ease a dispute with the government as it pushes for looser credit rules ahead of a general election.
The announcement by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s administration came just a day after Urjit Patel resigned from the post, following months of clashes between the two institutions over lending curbs and how to deploy the central bank’s surplus reserves.
Pressure on the RBI to take immediate steps to boost the economy, including a transfer of the excess reserves to the government, could well rise after Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) suffered likely election losses in three key states on Tuesday.
Das — a high-profile backer of Modi’s controversial 2016 move to scrap high-value currency notes, known as demonetization — will serve a three-year term as governor, effective immediately.
RBI watchers said they expected the 61-year-old, who retired last year as secretary of the department of economic affairs having previously served on the RBI’s board, to put relations between the Mumbai-based bank and the finance ministry in New Delhi on a stabler footing.
Investors will also look closely at his ability to hold up against outside influences after recent efforts by the Modi government to gain greater control over the central bank’s regulatory powers.
“The incoming governor will have to work hard to prove that he has his own independent mind,” said Deepak Jasani, head of retail research at Hdfc Securities.
Investors said any openly political appointee with little macro-economic experience, would not sit well with financial markets that already sold off following the BJP’s election setbacks.
But Ashish Vaidya, executive director and head of trading at DBS Bank in Mumbai, said he expected India’s debt and currency markets to react positively.
“He is a bureaucrat...We expect the RBI to take a pragmatic approach under him, be pro-growth and change its stance going ahead given that inflation has come off sharply,” he said.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley told Reuters partner ANI that the government acknowledged the bank’s independence.
“Government will fully support the RBI and coordinate with it in areas where consultations of government are required to make sure India’s economy benefits from both government policy decisions and areas which fall within domain of the RBI,” ANI tweeted, quoting Jaitley.

SWIFT APPOINTMENT
Pronab Sen, India’s former chief statistician, said he was surprised by the speed of Das’s appointment.
“If you have a situation where a position as important as the governor of the RBI is filled within 24 hours of the resignation of the incumbent, that will raise eyebrows,” Sen told Reuters.
“People are going to say, clearly this guy had already been identified. And, the situation was created where Urjit Patel had to quit.”
Das — widely seen as a contender for the top RBI job after Raghuram Rajan’s term ended in 2016 — did not answer calls from Reuters to his mobile phone.
RBI officials who have worked with him closely said Das was likely to be more inclusive in the decision-making process than Patel.
“He has a balanced approach and is good at consensus building,” said a former deputy governor. .”..We have had our fair share of differences. But he has always been solution-centric rather than festering on those differences.”
Das worked in the finance ministry under both Modi’s government and the previous coalition led by the main opposition Congress party and was also involved in drafting the Insolvency and Bankruptcy code aimed at protecting small investors.
He came under fire for his pro-demonetization stance and was the most vocal bureaucrat at the time Modi withdrew the high-value bank notes to fight tax evasion.
Das last year criticized the methodology of global rating agencies and sought a sovereign rating upgrade for India.