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Kuwait's Global said to hire ex-senior Barclays banker
December 5, 2013, 9:33 am

Global Investment House is set to hire Michael Helou, a former senior banker at Barclays, as its investment banking head, four banking sources said, as the Kuwaiti firm seeks to revive growth after a debt restructuring deal.

Global, one of the largest investment firms in the Middle East, was hit hard by the 2009 global financial crisis, which crippled debt markets and led to a sharp drop in asset values. It completed a $1.7 bln debt restructuring plan with creditors in July.

Global declined to comment on the appointment. Helou could no immediately be reached for comment. His appointment is awaiting regulatory approvals and will be effective by early 2014, one of the sources said.

The firm, which delisted from the Kuwait bourse and is currently debt-free post the restructuring, is now seeking to revamp its operations and the hiring is part of a plan to bolster key business lines, the sources said, speaking on condition of anonymity as the matter is not public.

"They (Global) clearly are putting their past behind them and seem more focused on growing their business post restructuring," another senior banking source said.

In September, Global hired Raul Biancardi to head its asset and wealth management division, a veteran investment professional who has previously worked at large banks, including Deutsche Bank and Morgan Stanley Inc. The firm has about $4 billion in assets under management.

Helou had joined Barclays in 2010 and headed the bank's financial institutions group in the Middle East and North Africa. He resigned from the British bank's Dubai office early this year.

He had originally moved to Dubai in 2006 to set up Rothschild's regional office. At Barclays, Helou worked on several deals including Qatar Holding's 2010 purchase of a stake in Santander's Brazilian unit, and Kuwaiti lender Burgan Bank's purchase of EFG Eurobank's Turkish unit.

Senior bankers from big international banks in the Middle East are joining local banks and financial institutions, attracted by the region's encouraging economic growth outlook.

"There is a pool of senior international talent in the market who are looking for an interesting challenge rather than just work for a bulge bracket name who has no capital or long-term commitment to the region," the banking source said.

Abu Dhabi's First Gulf Bank hired Simon Penney, previously Royal Bank of Scotland's chief executive for the Middle East and Africa, to help expand its wholesale banking business, the lender said in May.

QInvest, a Doha-based bank, has appointed Michael Katounas, previously with Swiss lender Credit Suisse, to run its investment banking division. Last year, the heads of the Qatar operations of Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley joined local banks in that Gulf state.

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