Foreign banks vie for Saudi Arabia licences amid reform
US bank Citigroup weighs full banking licence in Saudi Arabia
Riyadh — Citigroup is considering seeking a full banking licence in Saudi Arabia as western banks aim to capitalise on Saudi economic reforms, with rival HSBC announcing it has won mandates for several privatisation projects in the kingdom. More than a dozen foreign banks have licences to operate in Saudi Arabia, battling for business resulting from the kingdom’s efforts to wean itself off reliance on oil revenues. US bank Citi ended a five-decade presence in Saudi Arabia in 2004 with the sale of its 20% stake in Samba Financial, but in 2015 won permission to invest directly in the local stock market and in January 2018 gained approval to launch investment banking operations in the state. “We’re looking at whether or not we should expand our activities here into a full banking licence,” James Forese, the president and CE of the bank’s institutional clients group, said at a business conference in Riyadh. Other banks seeking a Saudi licence include Credit Suisse, while Goldman Sachs p...