Barclays is exploring a
return to Saudi Arabia in a bid to capture a slice of the
country’s burgeoning capital markets, two people close to the
matter told Reuters.
The British bank is looking at securing a license in the
kingdom to be able to manage deals including initial public
offerings (IPOs), the people said, speaking on the condition of
They added the deliberations were at an early stage and no
final decision has been made.
Barclays declined to comment while a representative for
Saudi Arabia’s Capital Markets Authority did not respond to a
request for comment.
The bank gave up its Saudi licenses in 2014 amid a global
retreat of its investment banking operations under then-chief
executive Antony Jenkins.
The bank is authorized to operate in the Dubai Financial
Centre and Qatar, but in its latest annual strategic report it
said it aimed to “selectively expand” its investment banking
presence in the Middle East.
Barclays earned about 70% of 2021 pre-tax profit from
corporate and investment banking activities, including trading,
advisory and transaction banking.
The Middle East has been a bright spot of activity in an
otherwise gloomy year for equity capital markets. Companies have
raised some $21.9 billion through IPOs in the area in 2022, more
than half the total for the wider EMEA region, which also
includes Europe and Africa, according to Dealogic data.
In particular, Saudi Arabia has witnessed a string of IPOs
amid a government-led privatization program that has also seen
state entities shed some of their holdings in listed firms,
encouraging local companies and family businesses to go public.
On Dec. 11, oil refiner Luberef priced its $1.3 billion
share offer at the top of the initial price range on the back of
strong investor demand.
The following day, restaurant operator Americana began
trading on the Riyadh and Abu Dhabi bourses after a successful
$1.8 billion dual listing.
In 2021, Barclays ranked among the top 10 bookrunners of
share sales worldwide, according to Dealogic data compiled by
the Wall Street Journal.
Its latest quarterly report showed a more than 80% drop in
equity capital markets income in the first nine months of 2022
from the same period last year amid a global drop in IPO
(Reporting by Pablo Mayo Cerqueiro and Hadeel Al Sayegh
Editing by Tomasz Janowski)