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Tue 27 Sep 2011 06:59 PM

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French bank to close MidEast M&A operations

Credit Agricole says it will close its regional mergers business, move ops back to Paris

French bank to close MidEast M&A operations
French bank Credit Agricole

French bank Credit Agricole will close its regional mergers and acquisitions business and move the operations back to its Paris office, an executive at the bank said on Tuesday.

The move is part of an ongoing review at the bank which also led it to shut its Bahrain office and move staff to Dubai.

"The move will affect around five to six people," said Bernard Mignucci, general manager for the Gulf countries.

"We want to concentrate on areas where we can add value to our clients," he said, citing a focus on Europe and Asia.

In May, the bank lost its top investment banker for the Middle East and North Africa region, Albert Momdjian, to Swiss bank UBS

Mignucci said several of the affected employees had turned down offers of relocation within the company. At least two of the bankers, including the regional chief financial officer, had opted to leave, sources said.

Shares in French banks are trading at crippled valuations after a summertime sell-off halved their share prices to levels not seen since 2009, wiping nearly 60 billion euros ($82 billion) off their market value.

Earlier this month Moody's downgraded the credit rating of Societe General and Credit Agricole.

Credit Agricole expects to complete the relocation of its Bahrain operations to Dubai in June 2012, Mignucci said. Once finalized, the bank will have about 120 people based in Dubai.

"It's not to do with the political decision but the fact we had around 50 people in both Bahrain and Dubai so we wanted to focus on one place," he said.

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