The Fixed Income business line established an on-the-ground presence in 2004, located in BNP Paribas office at the time in the United Gulf Bank (UGB) Building in central Manama. The team was determined to quickly become a leader in the field, particularly in origination helping clients tap international institutional investors and advisory, in areas such as securing ratings from the major agencies.

The division is also active in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) local currency and interest rates trading and product distribution, both in plain vanilla and derivatives formats with financial institutions and corporates in the region.

Long-term banking relationships with governments and major corporates, and truly global distribution networks, were key to the business line s success as international capital markets started to open up to new issuance from the region. The Fixed Income business line is a leading contributor to BNP Paribas regional performance.

Hisham Al Kurdi, co-regional Head of Fixed Income at BNP Paribas, said that longevity in the region had led to a high level of trust.

We ve been here for 40 years, and the commitment of the Bank to this region is key. Our clients respect us for what we do. For example, we co-operated closely with a local Central Bank in 2007 and 2008, when it was trying to stabilise the market at a time when there was a lot of currency speculation. Things like that differentiate us from our competitors in the region.

BNP Paribas has been involved in some of the region s biggest fixed income transactions, gaining prestigious awards for some of the most notable deals, such as the sukuk issuance by the Kingdom of Bahrain, and Abu Dhabi National Energy Company s bond issuance in 2010.

Hisham explains that the region s macro-economic fundamentals, hunger for long-term capital and capacity for investment bode well for the Bank s fixed-income partnerships in the Gulf:

I m quite bullish about the region especially as it remains resilient post-financial crisis. The Gulf economies have been resilient primarily due to oil prices. More and more companies are diversifying their sources of funding it s no longer merely syndication or loan financing. The Gulf also has significant pools of liquidity that can be tapped, and we are working with potential issuers to tap the Islamic finance market, such as a sovereign sukuk for South Africa.

Clients are looking more at their balance sheets, and are more sophisticated in terms of hedging, Hisham added. So all of these developments, plus the reserves, the contracting and the need for infrastructure, all of this paints a positive picture. We are committed to the region for the long term, and we are well positioned to partner with clients as they capitalise on the region s tremendous growth potential.

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