DUBAI Dec 13 Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ has
received a licence to open a branch in Saudi Arabia, becoming
the first Japanese bank to establish a presence in the kingdom.
The bank, part of Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group,
has played a central role in the Saudi government's recent
financing activity, in April helping to arrange a $10 billion
loan, while Mitsubishi UFJ in October helped with its $17.5
billion international bond sale.
The bank also signed an agreement in September with Saudi
Aramco (IPO-ARMO.SE) to assist and collaborate in the company's
future development. The oil giant is targeting 2018 for what is
expected to be the world's biggest initial public offering.
Saudi state news agency SPA said the cabinet licenced the
bank to open a branch in the kingdom and authorised the Minister
of Finance to decide on any subsequent request to open other
Saudi Arabia and Japan have strong trading ties, with
Japan's oil and gas procurement from Saudi Aramco accounting for
more than 30 percent of Japan's total imports for the sector,
according to a release from the bank in September.
Banking licences in the kingdom are granted relatively
infrequently. Qatar National Bank was the last foreign bank to
be permitted to open a branch in September 2015.
Out of the 13 foreign banks listed on the central bank's
website as being licenced to operate, five are Gulf lenders -
two from Bahrain and one each from Kuwait, the UAE and Oman.
Other international lenders include JP Morgan, Deutsche Bank
and BNP Paribas. Other Asian banks with licences include
Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, State Bank of India and
National Bank of Pakistan.
(Reporting by Tom Arnold, editing by Louise Heavens)