LGT bank builds Dubai presence

Private bank hiring bankers from Clariden Leu, say sources

LGT Group, the Liechtenstein-based private bank, is setting up its operations in Dubai, three sources familiar with the matter said, the latest private bank seeking to expand its footprint and attract business from rich Middle Eastern clients.

LGT, which managed assets worth 86.9 billion Swiss francs ($90.2 billion) at end-2011, has hired at least six private bankers from Swiss rival Clariden Leu for the business, two of the sources said, speaking on condition of anonymity as the matter has not been made public.

Credit Suisse, Clariden's parent, decided last year to integrate the private bank into its own organisation as part of a cost-cutting programme.

Mannan Adenwalla, Clariden's managing director in Dubai, will run LGT's operations in Dubai, the sources said.

"The Clariden integration by Credit Suisse helped LGT as they could get the people required to set up operations. In the Middle East, hiring the right talent is the key thing for a private bank," one of the sources said.

A spokesman for LGT Group in Liechtenstein declined to comment. LGT's operations are likely to be based in the tax-free Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), home to most global banks in the region, the sources said.

LGT currently has a representative office in Bahrain, according to its website.

The Gulf Arab region, which includes Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the UAE, pumps a large share of the world's crude oil production, and global private banks have flocked to the region lured by the growing ranks of millionaires.

The region's private banking sector has several pure-play private banks like Julius Baer and Sarasin Alpen, competing with diversified banks such as Credit Suisse, JP Morgan Chase and UBS.

Other private banks have also started coming in recently.

Royal Bank of Canada expects to double the number of wealth management employees in its Dubai office in the near future, and is open to opportunities for acquisitions, a senior executive said in April.

Rival Bank of Montreal set up a representative office in Abu Dhabi in May, expanding the Canadian bank's Middle East reach as the bank targets the region's growing rich.

The Middle East and Africa wealth management sector grew 8.6 per cent in 2010 and overall assets under management could grow to $6.7 trillion by 2015, helped by high oil prices, a study by the Boston Consulting Group in June last year showed.