UBS closes local investment banking in MENA

According to those with knowledge of the situation, UBS Group AG is essentially shuttering its physical investment banking activities in the Middle East and North Africa.

The last senior banker for the division in the area recently tendered his resignation, according to the persons, who asked to remain anonymous since the news is private. In recent weeks, it was decided to stop doing procedures in person.

In order to handle agreements, they added, bankers and professionals from other countries—such as the US and the UK—will fly in. The Swiss lender will continue to have operations in the area through other businesses, including its wealth arm, where it is increasing its headcount.

After Michael Cleanis, a managing director and head of global banking for the area, departed the company in March to join Abu Dhabi wealth fund Mubadala Investment Co., departures at the investment banking division increased. He had worked for UBS for 12 years in Dubai, mostly covering the sovereign wealth funds in the area.

The Swiss bank has reduced its investment banking activities in a number of developing nations, including South Africa and India. 2019 saw a global restructuring of UBS’s dealmaking divisions as Javier Oficialdegui and Ros Stephenson were promoted to co-lead investment banking, a role which involves offering advice on company acquisitions and raising money through the sale of stocks and bonds.

While some banks raise their in-person presence to take advantage of the increased transaction activity, UBS is part of the few others drawing back from the Middle East and North Africa. A flurry of initial public offerings in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and Saudi Arabia have boosted investment banking activity in the area.

The Swiss bank has advised on a number of significant transactions in the area and collaborated with other banks as an adviser on Dubai’s Tecom Group’s initial public offering earlier this year. Additionally, it served as an advisor on the merging of the two biggest banks in Abu Dhabi to form First Abu Dhabi Bank PJSC.

In the three months leading up to September, UBS reported a 19 percent fall in revenue at its investment banking division due to a general decline in deal-making and stock prices. Revenue from consulting declined by 58%.

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