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(Adds dropped word "said" in fifth paragraph)
By Tom Arnold
DUBAI, April 18 (Reuters) - Houlihan Lokey is opening an office in Dubai in the second quarter aiming to capitalise on opportunities in finance, M&A and other advisory work in the Middle East and Africa, an executive at the company told Reuters.
Houlihan Lokey is the latest North American investment bank to expand in the Middle East, where low oil prices have increased demand for asset sales and debt refinancing.
Rival Evercore said on Tuesday it expected to open a new office in Dubai in the second quarter of 2017.
Canada's Canaccord Genuity's aims to double the contributions to its investment banking business from the Middle East and India in the next five years, executives from the firm told Reuters last month.
Houlihan Lokey sees opportunities in the region to bring in outside capital whether it is from insurance companies, hedge funds, private equity or others, Arun Reddy, a managing director of the firm currently based in London, who will relocate to Dubai to co-head the office, said.
Low oil prices have squeezed local banks' liquidity in the Middle East, while sluggish economic growth has put more stress on companies' finances, pushing them to look at asset sales and debt restructuring.
Houlihan Lokey, which works on between 150 and 200 asset sales a year, is top of the rankings of global investment banking restructuring advisers and is in the top ten most active global M&A advisers, according to Thomson Reuters 2016 data.
The bank, which has been granted a licence to operate in the Dubai International Financial Centre, is already active in the Middle East and Africa, acting on deals including advising the Kuwaiti shareholders of Aston Martin on a debt restructuring deal.
The company already has offices across the United States, as well as Europe and Asia Pacific. (Editing by Jane Merriman)