Emirates Investment Bank Sees Asset Surge on Haven Status

Emirates Investment Bank PJSC, a Dubai-based private bank, said it’s benefiting from rising demand for investment advice as the region’s wealthy seek a haven for their assets in the United Arab Emirates.

Assets under management have jumped six fold to 2.5 billion dirhams ($680 million) from 450 million dirhams in 2008 as high net-worth individuals turn increasingly to local bankers, Chief Executive Officer Khaled Sifri said in an interview.

“Historically high net worth individuals in our region did not have anyone locally to provide that kind of service,” Sifri said in Dubai. “They were obliged to use international banks because nobody was providing the service locally.”

Private banks are boosting their businesses in emerging markets where economic expansion is increasing prosperity. Asia has the world’s fastest-growing number of people with more than $1 million in investable assets, according to a report in 2011 by Bank of America Corp. and Capgemini, a management consultant. The number of high-net-worth individuals in the Middle East rose 10 percent to 400,000 in 2010, while their combined wealth increased 13 percent to $1.7 trillion, according to the report.

Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest oil exporter, is embarking on about $500 billion in government spending and projects including the world’s tallest tower in Jeddah, while Qatar is spending $138 billion on infrastructure ahead of the 2022 soccer world cup that it’s hosting.

“The price of oil is clearly very relevant in wealth creation because it allows the governments of the region to spend more,” said Sifri. “The government tends to address a lot of these things by increasing expenditure, by expanding budgets, that trickles down into the system and there is more wealth created.”

Pictet, Switzerland’s biggest closely held private bank, said in October that its increasing asset management staff in the region and plans to recruit more staff in Geneva to serve wealthy Middle Eastern clients.

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