Saxo Bank is considering opening an office at the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) by the end of the year, says Jakob Thomsen, head of the bank's Middle East desk.
He said the Danish investment bank was weighing up its options to expand its presence in the region and would take a final decision in the next three months.
"The DIFC looks the best option for our expansion in the Middle East," he said. "We are weighing the scale of our presence and the number of required staff. We already have more than 20 staff dedicated to Middle East clients, including partners and institutions.
"The region represents 10 per cent of the total business of Saxo Bank.
"The Middle East is achieving major progress and, because of macroeconomic factors, the region will continue to show this progress in the future.
"Dubai is a top priority for us as the region is one of our fastest growing markets along with Southeast Asia. We have had Middle East clients since the start of Saxo Bank and we see positive development taking place here so we want to be part of this development.
"Dubai is playing an essential role in business and investment. London is a door between Europe and America and we see Dubai as a door between Europe and Asia. It is not necessary that the business is taking place in Dubai, but what we call the shaking hands is taking place here."
Thomsen said the bank had two types of client in the Middle East – institutions and partners. "We have institutional clients including banks, brokerage firms, family businesses and fund managers who we serve directly.
"We launched our partnership strategy, which we called white label partners, in 2001 with the concept of expanding in different global geographies through local players as we offer them our platforms, information technology solutions and training. These partnerships are intended to help Saxo expand more quickly through cooperation with local active players because we believe local players can achieve success faster than expanding organically through opening offices in different regions.
"In fact around 80 per cent of our global business is generated through white label partners. The number of global partners has reached more than 100 including five in the Middle East.
"It is a 100 per cent partnership as we do not generate revenues until our partners are generating revenues. And this area will be an essential part of our planned expansion in the Middle East." He ruled out potential competition from other players in the region.
"There is a large number of financial institutions in the DIFC and we are looking at them as potential partners rather than competitors.
"We are offering very advanced trading platforms and technologies that enable our clients to access a wide variety of markets and products through a single account."