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Senior bankers depart biggest Abu Dhabi lender during deals boom

Senior bankers depart biggest Abu Dhabi lender during deals boom

2 min. 13.09.2021
Largest lender in the United Arab Emirates loses at least eight senior bankers in recent months
Abu Dhabi
Abu Dhabi
Photo credit: Shutterstock

The largest lender in the United Arab Emirates has lost at least eight senior bankers in recent months, despite winning mandates on several high-profile transactions across the Gulf.

First Abu Dhabi Bank PJSC, half owned by sovereign wealth fund Mubadala Investment and members of the emirate’s ruling family, has in recent years built up a profitable investment banking business and amassed total assets approaching 1 trillion dirhams (€230 billion). 

But the bank now faces a series of departures even as it’s increasingly involved in some of the region’s biggest initial public offerings of companies such as satellite operator Yahsat and ACWA Power in Saudi Arabia.

Andy Cairns, head of corporate finance, is set to leave the bank, while FAB Capital’s chief executive officer in Saudi Arabia, Mona Al-Tawil, is departing later this month, according to people familiar with the matter. 

Other bankers and executives to depart in recent months include:   

  • Ahmed Shehada, head of FAB’s securities division, left in June, according to his LinkedIn page
  • Layth Al Shaiban, country head for Saudi Arabia, left in April for Neom, according to his LinkedIn profile
  • Antoine Chemali, group head of global private banking, left in mid-year, people familiar with the situation said
  • Rakan Alajroush, head of corporate banking in Saudi Arabia, left in May for Neom, according to his LinkedIn profile
  • Vivek Vohra, a managing director in the investment bank, left in August, according to his LinkedIn
  • John Bettles, a managing director in the investment bank, left in June to join Credit Agricole CIB, according to his LinkedIn profile
  • Pete Baker, group head of human resources, left in April, according to his LinkedIn profile

FAB didn’t respond to a request for comment. The bank last Wednesday said it recruited a former banker from HSBC Holdings to head its investment banking division and named a new head for its consumer banking business.  

The bank’s staff turnover comes as its new CEO puts her stamp on the bank and other firms in the region look to hire in an effort to seize on a record deal boom.

Earlier this year the bank promoted Hana Al Rostamani to group CEO from her previous role as head of personal banking and deputy group chief.

Investment and corporate banking has been a key contributor to earnings at FAB, accounting for 88% of after-tax profit in the first half of the year, according to the lender. 

The departures follow a busy period for FAB. Alongside banks including BNP Paribas and Morgan Stanley, it was among the bookrunners for Abu Dhabi’s offering of its second international bond this year. 

It’s also a joint global coordinator in Abu Dhabi National Oil Co.’s sale of shares in its drilling unit and is expected to have a role in a potential IPO of Emirates Global Aluminium.

FAB’s shares are trading around a record high, supported by a surge earlier this year after index compiler MSCI’s decision to increase the stock’s foreign inclusion factor in its gauges, which was estimated by Arqaam Capital to trigger more than $500 million (€428 million) in flows.

The lender’s shares have risen nearly 40% this year, giving it a market value of around 197 billion dirhams. 

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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