LONDON - HSBC is hiring dealmakers as "fast as it can" in Saudi Arabia to capitalise on a wave of financing activity in the country, the global head of its investment bank told Reuters.
The lender aims to increase headcount in its global banking and markets business in Saudi Arabia by 10-15% this year, Greg Guyett, the division's chief executive, told Reuters.
"There's a huge pipeline of transactions, we're taking on all the experienced people we can get," Guyett said, adding that other banks beefing up their presence in the region were also targeting HSBC staff who would then need replacing.
HSBC declined to comment on how many such bankers it already employs in Saudi Arabia.
The Britain-based bank in September appointed Faris AlGhannam as its chief executive officer in Saudi Arabia, in a move it said at the time demonstrated its commitment to expand its business in the Middle East.
HSBC's investment banking business made $65 million in profit in Saudi Arabia in 2021, according to company filings, the smallest such contribution among named countries aside from loss-making France.
The bank is not alone in targeting the oil-rich kingdom's potential - rival Barclays is exploring a return to Saudi Arabia to get in on the anticipated spate of stock listings, Reuters reported on Dec. 15.
The kingdom has seen a boom in big-ticket dealmaking in recent years as part of a wider strategy by Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman to wean the economy off oil revenues and lure foreign investment.
The Public Investment Fund (PIF) is working with Lazard on funding options and a potential initial public offering of Masar, a $27 billion mega project in the holy city of Mecca, Reuters reported in November.
Saudi Arabia also sold $5 billion in bonds last October, its first international debt sale in almost a year.
(Reporting by Lawrence White; Editing by Sinead Cruise and Jan Harvey)