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Sun 10 Feb 2013 04:57 PM

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C Suisse's Qatar investment boss quits - sources

Top investment banker Rami Touma quits as lender looks bolster Qatar operations

C Suisse's Qatar investment boss quits - sources

Credit Suisse's top investment banker for Qatar has resigned, three banking sources said, in a move that comes as the Swiss bank tries to bolster operations in the Gulf state, home to its second-largest shareholder.

Rami Touma, a director at the bank, has been running Credit Suisse's Qatar investment banking business since 2007. Touma handled relationships with key clients, primarily the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA), the Gulf state's sovereign wealth fund, one of the banking sources said.

Credit Suisse was not immediately available to comment. The sources, who are familiar with the matter, spoke on condition of anonymity due to sensitivity of the matter.

QIA owns a 6.2 percent stake in Credit Suisse through its investment arm Qatar Holding, making it the second-largest shareholder after Saudi Arabia's Olayan Group, which has a 6.6 percent stake, according to Reuters data.

The Swiss bank's Qatar operations are headed by Aladdin Hangari, who also runs an asset management venture with the Gulf state's sovereign wealth fund.

Like its peers, Credit Suisse is cutting back on riskier assets and reducing costs to meet tougher regulations aimed at preventing a repeat of the 2008 financial crisis.

The Zurich-based bank planned to trim its investment banking team in Dubai and move some of its staff to Qatar, as part of efforts to cut costs and focus on niche markets, sources told Reuters in September last year.

"I am not sure how well that plan is working, at least on the investment banking side. They haven't been able to move any of the senior bankers to Doha so far," a second banking source said late last week.

Other senior bankers have left the bank's Dubai office in recent months, the three sources said. Mumtaz Kazmi, a director and head of the bank's mergers and acquisitions business for the Middle East, left the bank late in 2012.

Kazmi, who worked at the bank since 2001, was named M&A head for the region in 2011.

Michael Katounas, another Dubai-based investment banking director, who joined Credit Suisse in 2005, has resigned and will leave the bank shortly.

The departures follow that of senior banker Bassam Yammine's resignation last October. Yammine was co-head of Middle East investment banking and co-chief executive for the bank's operations in the region.

Last week, the bank said it would cut costs by CHF4.4bn by the end of 2015, up from a previous CHF4bn target, by folding its asset management unit into its private bank and by moving some jobs offshore. Credit Suisse cut 2,300 jobs in 2012.

Weak results at its investment bank led to the bank missing fourth-quarter estimates, it reported last week.

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