HSBC Said Banned From Taking on New Assets at Saudi Unit

HSBC Holdings Plc is blocked from taking on new funds at its Saudi Arabian asset management business after the regulator found that it breached local regulations, according to five people with knowledge of the matter.

The order from the country’s Capital Market Authority was made late last year and affects HSBC Saudi Arabia Ltd.’s $7 billion asset management arm, the people said, asking not to be identified as the notice wasn’t made public. HSBC Saudi Arabia must overhaul compliance procedures before the regulator will consider reversing the ban, according to two of the people.

The action by the CMA, as the Saudi Arabian regulator is known, relates to local rules and isn’t connected to other investigations, two of the people said. HSBC has been under scrutiny by regulators around the globe and paid a $1.9 billion settlement in 2012 to end U.S. probes into money laundering. The bank paid $618 million in fines last year after an investigation into the rigging of foreign-exchange benchmarks.

A spokesman for HSBC Saudi Arabia declined to comment. The CMA didn’t respond to calls or an e-mail seeking comment.

Priority Market

HSBC Saudi Arabia managed about $7 billion of assets in mutual funds and discretionary portfolios at the end of 2013, according to the latest available annual report for SABB, the Saudi Arabian affiliate of HSBC. SABB also owns 51 percent of HSBC Saudi Arabia, and HSBC owns 40 percent of SABB.

The asset management arm of HSBC Saudi Arabia offers more than 20 mutual funds. The discretionary portfolio-management services cater to corporate and institutional clients as well as wealthy individuals, according to its website.

HSBC appointed Majed Najm as CEO of its Saudi operations in January, two people with knowledge of the matter told Bloomberg. He joined from HSBC’s local affiliate, Saudi British Bank, where he was general manager of retail banking and wealth management, according to the people.

Saudi Arabia is one of HSBC’s 19 priority growth markets, along with countries including Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, India, Mainland China, the U.S. and Brazil., according to the London-based bank’s annual report.

The $558 billion Saudi Stock Exchange, the largest in the Middle East, will open to direct foreign investment on June 15, the CMA said in a statement this month. The move could attract $40 billion of inflows into the bourse over the next five years, Arqaam Capital said in a research note.

The benchmark Tadawul All Share Index fell 0.3 percent to 9589.42 in Riyadh.

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