(Bloomberg) — Rothschild & Co. has appointed two leaders for its new office in Saudi Arabia, people familiar with the matter said, marking the advisory firm’s formal entry into one of the world’s most promising investment banking markets.
The Paris-based financial group named Nasser Al Issa as head of Saudi Arabia and Mark Sedwill as chairman, the people said, asking not to be named because the information was private.
Rothschild began applying for a license to set up in the kingdom earlier this year and plans to add more bankers in Riyadh, the people said. Company representatives were not immediately available for comment.
Before joining Rothschild, Al Issa was head of investments at Saudi Agricultural and Livestock Investment Co., which is backed by the kingdom’s sovereign wealth fund. He previously worked at national banks Samba Financial Group and National Commercial Bank, according to his LinkedIn profile.
Sedwill, a former British civil servant and member of the House of Lords, already sits on the Rothschilds’ supervisory board. He joined the firm’s London office last year.
Under the leadership of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi Arabia has launched an ambitious development program aimed at diversifying its oil-dependent economy. Riyadh has opened its stock market to foreign investors, listed state-owned oil giant Aramco, and its sovereign wealth fund has become one of the world’s most prolific investors.
The kingdom is one of the world’s few bright spots for stock markets and represents an opportunity for global banks to pursue growth.
While the deals haven’t always translated into currency gains, global banks have been ramping up the scene in anticipation of more deals — JPMorgan Chase & Co., for one, plans to add 20 people to its Riyadh operations by the end of the year.
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Rothschild, one of the world’s oldest banks, was already active in the kingdom. Earlier this year, operating from its offices in Dubai, the firm began working with the Saudi Ministry of Finance on a major restructuring of the troubled Saudi Binladin conglomerate.
Other boutiques have also been opening offices or adding staff in the kingdom. Moelis & Co. is opening an office and hiring bankers. Lazard Ltd hired two senior bankers and said it would make Riyadh the center of the Middle East, a role usually reserved for Dubai.
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