Standard Chartered opens largest trading room in the region at DIFC

(SATISH KUMAR)

To support the boom in trading of hard and soft commodities as well as currencies in the Middle East, Standard Chartered Bank yesterday opened the largest trading room in the region at its regional office at the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC).

Dr Omar bin Sulaiman, Governor of the DIFC, inaugurated the trading floor along with Richard Meddings, Standard Chartered's Group Finance Director, and Shayne Nelson, the bank's Regional CEO for the Middle East and North Africa. The trading room, the third platform of Standard Chartered in the UAE, will be one of the bank's global trading hubs and houses around 130 traders along with a large number of supporting staff to strengthen and expand the range of products. The trading platform will be expanded to 200 traders in 2009, according to Nelson.

"The bank has opened in its DIFC office the global trading facilities in softs, energy and emissions as well as a structuring capability designed to match our clients' individual strategic requirements. The DIFC office is also housing the Standard Chartered global market risk management, which was migrated from London to Dubai," he said, adding Standard Chartered is the first bank to have three trading floors in the UAE.

"Our interest rate derivatives (IRD) offering is made up of two teams. The first has a focus on the exotic and regional currency IRD products. The second team provides expertise in interest rate options, G3 swaps and short-term interest rate trading. The team can cover up to 15 markets," he added.

Nelson said Standard Chartered's office in DIFC now houses 650 employees covering operations in the Middle East and Africa. "We have trading floors in other regional countries, but the DIFC office will work as the brain and thinking base for strategic development of the bank's operations."

He also highlighted the prospects of Islamic banking in the region and the wide range of Shariah compliant products in Standard Chartered. "The Islamic banking is expanding very fast compared to conventional banking. The sukuk market is booming very fast because when issuing bonds only conventional clients will be interested in these bonds, but issuing sukuk attracts both conventional and Shariah compliant clients. Our Saadiq team that supports the global Islamic banking solutions is also based in the DIFC. Saadiq has introduced more than 90 products for consumer and wholesale banking across key markets."

Lee Boon Huat, managing director of global markets in the Middle East and Africa, said Standard Chartered's trading floor has wide capabilities and several products that cover fixed income, syndications, asset-backed securities, credit derivatives and convertible bonds.
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