Citigroup will be “fully operational” in Saudi Arabia in the first quarter of 2018 after an absence of more than a decade, according to reports, as it seeks to capitalize on opportunities in debt and equity capital markets.
The new business will be branded as Citigroup Saudi Arabia and will offer a full range of investment banking, debt and equity capital markets and research services to institutional clients.
Michael L. Corbat is Chief Executive Officer of Citigroup, and was in Riyadh when President Donald Trump made Saudi Arabia his first trip overseas as President. Citigroup says it has approximately 200 million customer accounts and activities in more than 160 countries and jurisdictions.
One of its largest shareholders, Prince Alwaleed bin Talal of Kingdom Holding Company, was recently detained in Riyadh as part of a crackdown on alleged corruption that has ensnared many high-ranking royals and ministers. Prince Alwaleed has owned Citigroup shares since 1991, and famously stood by Citigroup by buying more shares during the financial crisis. According to CNBC, Prince Alwaleed said he was still a holder in Citigroup, but the size of his holding is not known.
Prince Alwaleed also owns large stakes in Twitter and many other large western-based companies.
“Saudi Arabia is a country where we wanted to get back for a number of years,” Jim Cowles, Citi’s Europe, Middle East and Africa chief executive said at a media summit in London. “It’s something we are looking forward to.”
Citigroup, whose headquarters are in New York, was granted Capital Market Authority (CMA) licences in April of this year. Citi lost access to the largest Arab economy when it sold its stake in Samba Financial Group in 2004.