Fuelling Corporate Growth in Middle East & North Africa
by Asif Raza, Managing Director, Head of Treasury & Securities Services, MENA, J.P. Morgan, Farrukh Siddiqui, Managing Director, Regional Head of Trade, MEA, Treasury Services, J.P. Morgan, and Tristan Attenborough, Managing Director & Country Head, Saudi Arabia, Treasury & Securities Services, J.P. Morgan
The Middle East & North Africa (MENA) is one of the most culturally and historically rich regions of the world, offering a wealth of natural resources with both the appetite and potential for enormous growth and diversification. At J.P. Morgan, the fourteen countries that comprise MENA are central to our growth and investment strategy as we anticipate and respond to growing interest in the region amongst the large multinational corporations that comprise our customer base. In this article, we discuss the growing importance of MENA to our customers, and how we are supporting their strategic plans in the region.
Investing in regional growth
J.P. Morgan has a long and illustrious heritage in MENA, with a steady expansion in the depth and geographic reach of our activities ever since we first established ourselves in Saudi Arabia in 1933. Over recent years, we have further increased our commitment to the region, with 200 professionals now based in MENA, an increase of 75% over the past 18 months, and with 250 anticipated by the end of 2012. Not only have we expanded our reach across the MENA countries, but we provide our financial institution and corporate customers with a full range of services across commercial banking, treasury and securities services, trade services, investment banking and asset management.
This investment has enabled us to consolidate our reputation as the leading global bank supporting financial institutions in MENA, whilst also providing support to the increasing number of non-financial corporations that are expanding their business in the region. We continue to see and experience a surge of demand for trade finance services, not least due to the expanding trade corridors between Europe, Africa, Latin America and Asia, and the importance of Dubai as the world’s third largest export transit centre. Moreover, building a comprehensive range of local services, such as a wholesale bank in Saudi Arabia and extending our business across the United Arab Emirates, will allow us to support the needs of local corporates that are expanding internationally.
These companies are typically well-supported in their local banking requirements, but are now looking to leverage our global reach, global solutions portfolio and depth of local and international expertise, in order to support their business expansion and recognise the quality of J.P. Morgan’s reputation in the region. In many cases, these companies are involved in commodities, so we are helping to facilitate global trade whilst mitigating risk through our trade finance solutions such as offtake agreements.
Facilitating customers’ strategic growth plans
Amongst our traditional North American and European multinational corporate customer base, we are supporting a growing range of industries as they recognise the strategic importance of the region as part of a global growth strategy. In addition to MENA’s already established industries, such as petrochemicals, diverse investments are increasingly being made in social development and infrastructure projects. For example, the Saudi government’s pledge to invest $373bn in these areas between 2010 – 2014, is creating significant opportunities not least for power companies, utilities, water and irrigation, plant and machinery, healthcare, education, retailers and consultancy services, to name a few. In many cases, although these companies could have had a presence in the region for some time, they may have relied on agents, distributors or joint ventures to represent their interests. With enormous potential as a key source of growth for the future, they are now expanding their investment in the region and establishing a direct local presence.