Citigroup seeks to obtain a banking license in Saudi Arabia

A senior executive at Citigroup said that the bank would like to obtain a banking license in Saudi Arabia to enhance its activities in the Kingdom, through the expansion of trade finance and treasury solutions.

Citi obtained a license to operate in the Saudi capital markets in 2017, which allowed it to return to the kingdom in 2018 after an absence of 13 years.

The bank advised Aramco on its $29.4 billion listing in 2019, which was the world’s largest initial public offering, as well as several sovereign and commercial bond deals.

“We have achieved significant growth during this period, and we remain very interested in making more investments locally in the market,” Ebro Bakan, director of Emerging Markets Operations for Europe, Middle East and Africa at Citigroup, said on the sidelines of the FII conference in Saudi Arabia.

Bakan added, “As our clients are investing more in many potential growth sectors, we are interested in expanding our capabilities and services locally over time, by seeking a banking license.”

Citigroup’s business model is to serve multinational companies globally, as well as to bring local market opportunities to global investors.

“When we work with these global companies, particularly in liquidity management, trade finance and other treasury solutions, it becomes really important that we are a deposit-taking institution that has local payment and collection capabilities,” Bacan says.

Western financial institutions have expanded in Saudi Arabia since the government revealed plans to privatize state-owned assets and adopted reforms as part of an economic strategy to reduce dependence on oil.

Bakan also said that the bank plans to hire more employees in Saudi Arabia, and may double or triple the number of its team members over the next few years, adding that the United Arab Emirates will be one of the bank’s global centers for wealth management, focusing on the Gulf Cooperation Council countries and emerging markets. .

In other parts of emerging markets, Bakan said the bank is “closely watching” markets such as Ghana in Africa and Uzbekistan in Central Asia, as the markets develop and continue to attract more multinationals.

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