UAE’s First Abu Dhabi gets securities licence in Saudi Arabia

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First Abu Dhabi Bank, the largest bank in the United Arab Emirates by assets, has been given the go-ahead by Saudi Arabia’s regulator to conduct arranging and advising activities in the securities sector, a source close to the matter said.

It is the latest foreign bank attracted by opportunities in Saudi Arabia, which is embarking on an investment drive to diversify its economy beyond oil revenues.

FAB, created by last year’s merger between National Bank of Abu Dhabi and First Gulf Bank, said last week that it was working on expanding its business in Saudi Arabia.

In a statement on Monday, Saudi Arabia’s Capital Market Authority said it had authorised First Abu Dhabi Investment Saudi Co to conduct arranging and advising activities in the securities business. It did not elaborate.

The source close to the matter said the licence applied to FAB, which has participated in Saudi deals since its creation. Last month, it was one of eight international banks to provide a $2.6 billion bridge syndicated loan to state-controlled utility Saudi Electricity Co. The bank does not currently have a branch or representative office in Saudi Arabia.

Other international banks to raise their presence in the kingdom in recent months include Goldman Sachs and Citigroup, with the latter last month winning formal approval from the CMA to begin investment banking business there.

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