HSBC Middle East CEO Joins Saudi Government After Shakeup

  • Mohammad Al Tuwaijri to become deputy minister of economy
  • Bank is one of most active investment banks in Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia named HSBC Holdings Plc Middle East and North Africa Chief Executive Officer Mohammad Al Tuwaijri deputy minister of economy and planning, the highest-profile banker hired to the government as the country seeks to diversify the economy.

Al Tuwaijri, regional CEO of the London-based bank since October 2013, takes on the role immediately and reports to economy and planning minister Adel Fakeih. Robin Jones, previously deputy CEO in MENA, will become interim CEO and a permanent replacement will be announced "in due course," HSBC spokesman Paul Harris said by phone on Sunday.

While Saudi-national Al Tuwaijri’s appointment forms part of a wider reshuffle in the kingdom, he joins a growing number of bankers taking senior government roles as OPEC’s top producer reboots its economy. Mohammed Al Jadaan, head of the country’s Capital Markets Authority, was a special adviser to Morgan Stanley’s board in Saudi Arabia, while Yasir Al Rumayyan, former chief executive officer at Credit Agricole-backed Saudi Fransi Capital, recently became head of Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund.

The country also replaced the central bank governor and long-time oil minister Ali al-Naimi as Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman reforms the economy to reduce its dependence on oil.

Former Pilot

A former Saudi air force pilot, Al Tuwaijri joined Saudi British Bank, HSBC’s affiliate in Saudi Arabia, in 1995 and served as head of risk management, deputy treasurer and treasurer before leaving to become senior country officer for JPMorgan Chase & Co. in Saudi Arabia in 2007, according to HSBC’s website. He rejoined the London-based bank in 2010 as head of global banking and markets for Middle East and Africa. A photograph of him with HSBC CEO Stuart Gulliver adorned his office in downtown Dubai.

During his time at the bank, Al Tuwaijri helped cement HSBC’s role as one of the most active international investment banks in Saudi Arabia. The lender has been the top adviser for IPOs in the country for the past five years, according to data compiled by Bloomberg, and was the sole international adviser on the $6 billion IPO of National Commercial Bank in 2014, the Middle East’s largest ever listing. HSBC holds a 40 percent stake in Saudi British, known as SABB, and a 49 percent share in HSBC Saudi Arabia.

Last week, Saudi Arabia’s stock market said it hired HSBC’s Saudi unit as a financial adviser for its initial public offering, beating off competition from Wall Street banks and other international investment banks. HSBC Saudi Arabia has also been appointed to advise the government on the partial privatization of Saudi Arabia’s Grain Silos and Flour Mills Organization, one of the first under the kingdom’s new economic reform plan, two people with knowledge of the matter said last month.


Al Tuwaijri’s time in charge also presented challenges for the bank in the kingdom. In 2014, HSBC was blocked from taking in new funds at its Saudi asset-management business after local regulators found that it breached local rules, people familiar with the matter told Bloomberg in April last year. The ban was lifted in July 2015, a spokesman for HSBC Saudi Arabia said in March, declining to give more details on what regulations were breached.

The bank’s Saudi unit made provisions of 162 million riyals ($42 million) over the past two years to pay levies imposed for breaching regulations over 12 years and cover the expense of future fines, according to financial statements published on its website in March.

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