Barclays Names Makram Azar Chairman in Middle East

Barclays Plc, the U.K.’s second-largest bank by assets, appointed Makram Azar as its chairman for the Middle East and North Africa, two months after John Vitalo left as chief executive officer for the region.

Azar will continue as vice chairman of the bank’s global investment-banking division, according to an internal memo obtained by Bloomberg News yesterday that was confirmed by a bank spokesman in Dubai. Barclays also said it appointed Andrew Mortimer as country manager for the Middle East.

The London-based bank is pursuing growth in emerging markets such as Middle East and Africa, while scaling back investment-banking in the U.S. and Asia. Barclays plans to boost hiring and increase lending at its corporate bank in Dubai, Rezwan Mirza, head of that business in the United Arab Emirates and Gulf countries, said in a May 26 interview.

Vitalo left in April to join former Barclays CEO Robert Diamond’s African financial-services company, Atlas Mara Co-Nvest Ltd. Mortimer will continue in his current role as chief operating officer for Middle East, according to the memo.

Azar will lead Barclays’s business in the region and the bank is unlikely to appoint a direct replacement for Vitalo, according to two people familiar with the matter, who asked not to be identified as the information is private. The bank declined to provide further details.

Azar joined Barclays’s investment banking division as a managing director in 2010 after running New York-based buyout firm KKR& Co’s business in the Middle East and North Africa for two years. Before that, he was head of sovereign wealth fund business for Lehman Brothers Holding Inc.

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