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The Crucial Role of Investment Banking

An interview with Arul Kandasamy, Head of Investment Banking, Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank 

Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank (ADCB) offers comprehensive investment banking capabilities to customers in UAE and the wider GCC, with substantial growth too in India where the bank has two branches. It is perhaps surprising, therefore, that its investment banking division is relatively new, yet still plays such a crucial role in the investment banking community in the region. In this interview, Helen Sanders, Editor, talks to Arul Kandasamy, head of investment banking, about the achievements of the bank, and its customers, so far, and his plans for the future.

Tell us a little about your background

I am Malaysian by nationality, and first went into banking in the UK in 2002, working for Credit Agricole in London. Initially, I was part of the securitisation team, and later became involved with asset-backed securities (ABS) when the ABS market was at its peak, which has given me very valuable experience later in my career. In 2004, at a time when interest in Islamic finance was growing, I moved to Bahrain to set up an Islamic banking product team. Again, this was a very interesting and valuable part of my career, playing a role in the shaping of this market. After two years, I moved to Dubai where I set up the Barclays Capital sukok (capital markets) business. During this time, we initiated the world’s largest sukok transactions, and achieved a number of ‘firsts’ including the first exchangeable sukok, the equivalent of an exchangeable bond.

In 2008, I was invited to join ADCB to set up its investment banking operation. In many respects, it was a difficult time to start a new bank, given the global financial crisis that was rocking the markets around the world, but UAE was a relatively safe haven during this period, and it was a remarkable experience to be involved right from the beginning in the development of a bank that has since demonstrated such significant value to corporates, governments and financial institutions in UAE and the wider GCC, both those headquartered in the region and foreign multinationals.