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February 8, 2021updated 10 Feb 2021 1:23pm

UBS sets up new hub in Qatar to bolster Middle East presence

By Amala Johney

UBS Group is reportedly expanding its reach in the Middle East by establishing a new hub in Qatar.

The new wealth office in Doha marks the Swiss bank’s second Middle Eastern hub after Dubai, reported Bloomberg.

The bank plans to add investment banking and asset-management services in the future to its wealth management business in the region, according to the report. The hub is expected to launch in weeks.

UBS is looking to hire around 20 employees for the new hub by the end of the year, a person briefed on the plans told the news agency.

These include back office and support staff, in addition to relationship managers to develop business with Qatari clients, the person said.

According to World Bank data, Qatar’s per-capita income is nearly six times higher than that of the world average.

Additionally, establishing a presence in the region is expected to help UBS to manage assets owned by the Qatar Investment Authority, which is considered one of the largest sovereign wealth funds in the world.

The bank hired Tarek Eido from HSBC to lead its wealth management unit in Qatar, starting 1 March, according to a UBS memo sent to employees last week.

Eido will report to Ali Janoudi, who is in charge of the Middle East and Africa wealth business.

In November last year, UBS unveiled plans to bolster its footprint in the Middle East by venturing into the wealth management market of Qatar.

A non-binding MoU was signed between UBS and the Investment Promotion Agency of Qatar (IPA Qatar) in this regard.

The Swiss wealth manager also has offices in other Middle East markets including Saudi Arabia and Bahrain.

Other moves by UBS

UBS posted a 137% year-on-year growth in Q4 2020 profit, driven by wealth and asset management businesses.

The Swiss wealth manager also announced a $4.5bn share buyback programme over the coming three years.

Besides, last month, it was reported that UBS is planning to shutter 44 of its 239 branches in Switzerland over the next few months in a bid to focus on digital channels.

Last December, UBS appointed Sabine Keller-Busse as the new president of UBS Switzerland, replacing Axel Lehmann in the first key restructure under new CEO Ralph Hamers.

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