Deutsche Bank is looking to once again grow in the Middle East after years of axing costs and has recruited a new team to help win debt and advisory deals across the region.
"We have pivoted from a pure cost-control focus in 2018 to a controlled, disciplined growth phase in 2019," Jamal Al Kishi, chief executive officer of the Middle East and Africa for the Frankfurt-based lender, said in an interview. "This year will be a better one in terms of both revenue and profitability, and you'll see us on large financing deals and, hopefully, some M&A this year," he told Bloomberg.
To help rebuild the bank's operations in the region, Ibrahim Qasim has joined as head of structured solutions for the Middle East and North Africa and Khalid Rashid left Standard Chartered to take charge of capital markets. Last year, Deutsche brought in Asif Karmally to lead the financial solutions group in the UAE, Oman and Pakistan.
This year will be a better one in terms of both revenue and profitability, and you'll see us on large financing deals and, hopefully, some M&A this year"
We would be "looking at re-establishing certain product areas in a very focused way and we will compete against the US firms in a very relevant way."
One of the key areas that the German lender is aiming for is the bond market. Deutsche Bank was ranked 39th among syndicated loan bookrunners in the Middle East and North Africa last year, according to Bloomberg League Tables, a list dominated by foreign lenders. It was the fifth-biggest arranger of bond sales in the region, ranking behind Citigroup . and JPMorgan, the data show.
The German lender helped to arrange bond sales for Egypt and Lebanon and was part of a $2bn loan refinancing for Dubai ports operator DP World.
"We're busy talking to clients in the public and private sectors about significant financing and M&A and corporate-finance deals," Al Kishi said.
Deutsche Bank reported a drop in global revenue for the eighth successive quarter earlier this month, led by a slump in its key fixed-income trading business. CEO Christian Sewing said the bank seeks a return to growth, but pledged more cost cuts if revenues disappointed.
It is currently in the middle of a cost-cutting programme that will eventually see 7,000 jobs eliminated. It spent nearly €340m on severance costs in the corporate and investment bank alone last year — an increase of more than 500% on 2017.
Several of Deutsche Bank's biggest shareholders are also calling for it to make deeper cuts to its perennially lossmaking US investment bank as they run out of patience with the lender's poor performance and tumbling share price, as the FT reports.