BofA to increase Gulf lending as deal making recovers
By Mirna Sleiman | January 14, 2013 9:42 PM EST
Bank of America Merrill Lynch (BofA)
BofA's move comes at a time when global banks, mostly European institutions, faced with a slump in deal activity and pressure to save money at home, scale back their business in the region and pull out of funding big-ticket projects.
But the bank, which made senior hires in the Gulf region last year, expects investment banking activity to pick up in 2013, according to Wadih Boueiz, the bank's co-head of corporate and investment banking for the Middle East and North Africa.
"We are using our balance sheet more aggressively with strategic clients as part of our strategy to increase investment banking market share. We also see tremendous growth for our corporate banking platform," said Boueiz, who also heads the bank's sovereign wealth fund business.
A wide range of financial institutions, including Credit Suisse
Some have sold assets outright to raise capital.
"The MENA (Middle East and North Africa) region remains a strategic priority for Bank of America. We are taking a long term view of the region and are fully committed to further building our business here," Boueiz said.
The bank appointed Boueiz and Hakim Karoui in October as co-heads of investment banking for the region as part of plans to integrate corporate and investment banking in emerging markets.
BofA's Chief Executive Brian Moynihan earlier this month urged his bankers to lend more aggressively to businesses. This comes as BofA and its rivals try to find avenues of growth as new regulations and the U.S. Federal Reserve's low interest rate policy squeeze profits.
The bank is betting on a pickup in merger and acquisition activity in the Gulf Arab region this year as high oil prices, stable markets and low valuations spur deals from sovereign wealth funds and large companies.
"Sovereign wealth funds and regional companies looking to expand should drive most of this M&A activity. We expect them to be more active in outbound M&A, whether it's out of their countries into the Gulf/MENA or globally," Boueiz said.
Though still far off activity seen in the boom years, the Middle Eastern M&A is showing signs of a revival after a three-year slump, with transaction volume totalling $20 billion in 2012, nearly double that of the previous year, according to Thomson Reuters data.
Boueiz said Middle Eastern investors were increasingly looking into the U.S. for investments, a shift from their traditional preference for Europe.
"Interest in the U.S. has always been there but it went through a major slowdown. The U.S. is starting to show signs of improvement in its fundamentals, banks are doing better and corporates are sitting on excess cash," he said.
In the past 18 months, Bank of America advised on a number of cross border transactions, including the $3.25 billion acquisition of Gassled by an infrastructure consortium including a Middle Eastern sovereign wealth fund, and the $1.9 billion sale of Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank's 25-percent stake in Malaysian lender RHB Capital
The bank was also involved in the $1.7 billion sale of Turkey's Acibadem by Dubai private equity firm Abraaj Group, the $800 million spin-off of Egypt's Orascom Telecom Media and Technology Holding
(Editing by Dinesh Nair and Louise Heavens)
Most Popular Slideshows
- Gennady Golovkin Next Fight Options: Canelo Alvarez, Miguel Cotto Or Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.
- NFL MNF: Pittsburgh Steelers 30, Houston Texans 23 [PHOTOS]
- 2014 MLB World Series Game 1: San Francisco Giants 7, Kansas City Royals 1 [PHOTOS]
- 2014 MLB World Series - Game 2: Kansas City Royals 7, San Francisco Giants 2 [PHOTOS]
Join the Conversation
- Tourre on stand says email in SEC case 'not accurate'
- Syrian authorities blocking access to needy in Homs - Red Cross
- Faith in European Union at low ebb, EU poll says
- Former UBS banker gets 18 months, $1 million fine, for muni bid-rigging scheme
- U.S. judge halts challenges to Detroit's bankruptcy bid
- Chilling: New ISIS Video Addresses Australia; Aussie Teen Delivers Message
- The Pirate Bay Blockade: Cost Of Blocking Websites Like TPB Is Ridiculously High
- Xiaomi Mi4 And MiPad Prices Likely Slashed, Thanks To Rivals Oppo, OnePlus And Meizu
- Virginia Woman Who Posted Naked Image Of Ex-BF’s New Partner 1st Person Charged Under Revenge Porn Law
- No Mercy: ISIS, Father Stones to Death Daughter for Alleged Adultery
- iOS 8 Jailbreak Release Date is Doomed as Team Evad3rs Opts Out, Pangu Hits Snag – Report
- Google Nexus 6 vs. iPhone 5S: 4 Important Things to Consider Before Switching to Android Lollipop