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Banking

Dubai’s financial centre: Does on the ground mean in the money?

Some senior bankers are still moving to Dubai; but at least one has already moved away again. Sending rainmakers to the UAE brings as yet unquantifiable rewards. Should global banks keep expanding their Gulf presence? Dominic O’Neill reports from Dubai.

MOST OF DUBAI – including the part allocated for the Dubai International Financial Centre – is an unfinished building site. Relocation of senior bankers has fuelled something of a buzz in the financial centre’s Gate development.

The bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers and the accompanying regional crisis caused by oil, equity and property crashes has not reversed the trend of senior bankers moving to Dubai, at least not in all business lines. Andrew Dell moved to Dubai as recently as January. He is head of debt capital markets in CEEMEA at HSBC, previously based in London.

Earlier this year, Credit Suisse relocated Anthony Armstrong to Dubai. Armstrong sometimes worked with Arab buyers in his former role as managing director for Americas M&A in Los Angeles. He moved because of the US slowdown and expected growth in Middle East M&A activity.

In what might be a reality check for Dubai’s financial centre, however, Goldman Sachs brought back to London Alasdair Warren, its most senior banker in Dubai. Warren, a managing director in the financing group, had only been in Dubai a year. But stock issuance in the Gulf has been almost non-existent since September. Warren’s experience as a former co-head of UK investment banking is highly in demand as European companies turn to financing through equity.

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