Standard Chartered CEO Bill Winters said he’s talking to regulators in Saudi Arabia to understand the requirements to win a banking license, which could add another emerging market to more than 70 countries where the British bank does business.
"The ground rules for what is required for the banking license” are “evolving, as are so many other things in Saudi right now," Winters said on the sidelines of a conference in Riyadh on Wednesday. "We continue to have conversations with the regulator to understand what the requirements are, and how we can best meet them, and can support the kingdom towards its 2030 vision."
The lender already has a license from the kingdom’s Capital Markets Authority and is seeking to become more active in the oil-rich nation. Saudi Arabia, which is hosting a gathering of high-profile global finance and business figures this week, is overhauling its economy and issuing debt, and plans to list Saudi Arabian Oil Co. in what could be the largest-ever initial public offering.
Only a handful of international banks, such as JPMorgan Chase & Co., Deutsche Bank AG and BNP Paribas SA, have licenses to open branches in the kingdom. HSBC Holdings Plc, Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc and Credit Agricole SA operate in the country through minority stakes in local lenders. Citigroup Inc. is considering seeking a banking license.
Winters said a session on foreign institutional investors he attended was “an eye opener on how quickly things are changing in Saudi, and tells us the role the international banks with deep local roots like us can play." Standard Chartered is looking for ways to deploy a "more substantial presence on the ground in Saudi Arabia," he said.
Standard Chartered, which has a big presence in the Gulf region, is looking to play an active role in cross-border payments and investments and wants a role in Saudi Arabian domestic capital markets, Winters said.
Subscribe to Arabian Business' newsletter to receive the latest breaking news and business stories in Dubai,the UAE and the GCC straight to your inbox.