News Column

Credit Suisse 'gaining deals on merit'

June 9, 2014

Bloomberg News

Dubai:Credit Suisse, the Swiss investment bank which advised Qatar on some of its most high-profile investments, said it's gaining deals on merit and not because of the Gulf state's status as a key shareholder.

"We're winning deals in a competitive environment on the basis of how strong our credentials are in a particular sector, geography or product," Aladdin Hangari, the bank's chief executive officer for Qatar, said in an interview. "Just having Qatar as a shareholder is not enough to win mandates."

Qatar and Credit Suisse are boosting ties after the gas-rich nation took a stake in the bank and bought its London headquarters. Switzerland's second-largest lender and Qatar Holding, a unit of the emirate's sovereign wealth fund, also formed Aventicum Capital Management in 2012 to boost emerging-market investments. Hangari also heads that business.

The Swiss lender has advised Qatar's sovereign wealth fund on high-profile deals including stake purchases in German automaker Porsche and the acquisition of London's Harrods department store.

Qatar Investment Authority, the sovereign wealth fund, is the bank's second-largest shareholder with a 5.1 per cent stake, according to data.

The fund is also the third-largest shareholder in British lender Barclays after providing capital to the bank during the global financial crisis.

Outside investment

Hangari said he expects Qatar, the world's richest nation on a per capita basis, to continue investments outside the country even amid political change at home. Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani became Emir in June last year after his father handed over power.

"For a country like Qatar, which is continuously generating large amounts of wealth, they need to look at investing capital abroad," Hangari said.

Qatar Holding was part of an investor group that agreed to buy a stake in American Express's business-travel unit for $900 million in March, while former Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim Bin Jabr Al Thani is providing Deutsche Bank with a €2.1-billion ($2.9 billion) cash infusion.

Overseas investments

Three weeks earlier, Sheikh Hamad'sAl Mirqab Capital vehicle made a takeover offer for Jersey-based Heritage Oil.

The Gulf state will continue to favour Europe for its overseas investments as the legal and regulatory framework in the continent is familiar with Qatar, Aladdin Hangari said.

Hangari said he was focused on building a business in the Gulf state that was not solely reliant on investment banking operations and had more 'predictable' revenues through asset management and private banking.

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Source: Times of Oman

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