First Gulf Bank Plans More Hiring in Investment Bank Transition

First Gulf Bank PJSC (FGB), the Abu Dhabi-based lender which this week recruited former Standard Chartered banker Steve Perry, is planning further high-level hires as it focuses on winning more investment-banking business.

Perry is “one of a number of senior appointments” the ruling-family controlled lender expects to make in the next six months in areas such as debt capital markets, wholesale banking head Simon Penney said today in e-mailed comments.

“We are moving into being something that looks and feels a little bit more like an investment bank,” Penney said. “We’re focusing a lot more on originating from our client base, which we haven’t done as much as we should have in the past.”

Perry was Standard Chartered (STAN) Plc’s Dubai-based head of loan syndications and capital markets for the Middle East and North Africa until last year and is joining First Gulf in a new role as the bank’s head of debt markets, said Penney, who himself joined the bank this year from Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc.

First Gulf Bank is one of several lenders in the second-biggest Arab economy seeking to boost investment-banking revenue. It plans to build its bond distribution capabilities to work alongside top regional underwriters like HSBC Holdings Plc (HSBA) and Standard Chartered Plc on sale mandates, Penney said. The bank (RBS) is also seeking to improve its risk management abilities by offering derivative products and foreign exchange hedging, he said.

Bond Sales

Bond sales in the Gulf Cooperation Council surged to a record $43 billion last year, though they have dropped 14 percent this year compared with 2012 as investor concern that the U.S. Federal Reserve will taper its bond buying program boosted yields.

The United Arab Emirates has the biggest banking market in the six-nation GCC, which also includes Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Fifty-one commercial banks operate in the country, including the local units of Citigroup Inc (C) and Barclays Plc. (BARC)

Along with debt markets, First Gulf Bank plans to build its cash management and trade finance platforms to support clients in the U.A.E. and abroad, Penney said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Arif Sharif in Dubai at asharif2@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Dale Crofts at dcrofts@bloomberg.net Claudia Maedler at cmaedler@bloomberg.net

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