March 6, 2018 / 3:41 AM / 19 days ago

Egypt's EFG Hermes weighs hiring more bankers for Saudi deals

DUBAI, March 5 (Reuters) - Egypt’s EFG Hermes is considering adding 20 percent more staff as one of the region’s biggest investment banks expects an improved deals outlook in Saudi Arabia by the second half of the year, a senior executive told Reuters on Monday.

But for sentiment to improve the kingdom must first overcome the “vagueness” stemming from its anti-corruption campaign against prominent businessmen and royals, said Mohamed Fahmi, co-head of EFG Hermes Investment Banking, in an interview in Dubai.

“There is massive interest in Saudi, but you will find that a lot of people are looking at it and thinking: who should we partner with?” said Fahmi.

Concerns about business relationships in the kingdom should ease by the end of the year, he said, and IPO plans for businessmen who were not detained in Riyadh’s Ritz-Carlton hotel are expected to push through with their share-sale plans.

The bank is currently working on an initial public offering in Saudi Arabia and “angling” for a second deal, said Fahmi, although he declined to name the companies.

“Maybe in total we’ll add five to seven people across offices. If Saudi picks up, I think the bulk will be geared toward Saudi,” he said.

Opportunities for investment banks have increased tremendously due to Vision 2030, the reform programme launched by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to diversify the economy and end its reliance on oil exports.

Riyadh has ambitious privatisation plans, including to raise $100 billion through the listing of five percent of state oil firm Saudi Aramco at home and on one or more overseas markets. (Reporting by Hadeel Al Sayegh and Katie Paul; Editing by Michael Perry)

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