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Banking

Middle East debt: WestLB finds little warmth from the Gulf

WestLB has perhaps become one of the Middle East’s less enchanting mysteries. The Düsseldorf-based lender has somehow been involved in almost all of the most publicized credit crises in the Arabian Peninsula over the past two years.

WestLB has perhaps become one of the Middle East’s less enchanting mysteries. The Düsseldorf-based lender has somehow been involved in almost all of the most publicized credit crises in the Arabian Peninsula over the past two years.

"We did not win mandates by being overly aggressive on pricing"

David Pepper, WestLB

Most recently, David Pepper, a WestLB loan syndications director for the CEEMEA region, led a 32-bank group that was forced to partly extend the maturity of a $300 million facility at the last minute for Bahrain’s Gulf Finance House (GFH). The bank posted a $728 million loss for 2009 and its rating was lowered to selective default by Standard & Poor’s on the facility’s February 10 due date, when the new arrangement was announced.

Such involvement might be more understandable for institutions such as Standard Chartered or HSBC. These banks have focused on the Middle East for much of their existence. WestLB’s Gulf base, on the other hand, dates from the early 1990s. Even today, WestLB has only a representative office in Dubai.

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