Credit Agricole has appointed Marc Sfeir to head its mergers and acquisitions business in the Middle East, sources aware of the matter said on Tuesday, marking the return of such operations to the Gulf after a five-year hiatus.
Sfeir, who started at the bank this week, will be based in Dubai and joins from Bank of America-Merrill Lynch, the sources said, speaking on condition of anonymity as the information isn’t public.
The bank previously had an M&A advisory team in Dubai but shifted responsibilities to its Paris base in 2011 as activity waned in the wake of the global financial crisis and Dubai’s sovereign debt crisis.
However, the appointment of former Citigroup banker Mazin Manna as senior regional officer of the Middle East and North Africa in July 2015 has seen the bank review its business lines with the aim of expanding outside of its traditional strengths in the region of structured and corporate finance and capital markets, according to two of the sources.
“It’s not a shift, it’s confirmation that this region is important,” Credit Agricole CEO Philippe Brassac told Reuters on the sidelines of a fintech conference in Paris.
Total investment banking fees in the Middle East rose 8 percent in the first half of 2016 on the same period of last year to $416.8 million, according to Thomson Reuters data.
However, the same data showed the Middle Eastern M&A market was sluggish, with the value of announced deals and the fees secured for completed transactions declining respectively 29 percent to $18.7 billion and 24 percent to $104 million.