Corporate Finance

In 2007, the Corporate Finance business line placed a team of three people in Dubai. In 2009, the team, which had grown to six by this time, joined the regional hub in Bahrain. Hervé Letalenet, fresh from heading the Media Telecom sector, was put in charge of Corporate Finance activity for the region. Eric Jacquemot, who moved to Bahrain in April 2009, became the local business line head until 2014, when he was succeeded by Vincent Prot.

The Corporate Finance team in the GCC was integrated in to the region, working alongside other teams such as Client Relationship and Structured Finance, explains Hervé Letalenet. Meanwhile, the mergers and acquisitions sector teams in Paris contributed new ideas and technical expertise.

Despite the downbeat global economic climate, the timing proved right. These states have a permanent, structural excess of liquidity and are open to cross-border investment opportunities, said Letalenet. There is huge wealth concentrated in the region, with ownership of companies and industry, and they may require some mergers and acquisitions advice.

Given BNP Paribas reputation for dependability, coupled with its more than forty years expertise in the region, expanding in this area seemed a perfect move. Some US banks established very high level contacts, which enabled them to participate in a number of projects, but investors in the region were sometimes dissatisfied, commented Hervé Letalenet. These banks are now less involved but still very much on the ground. Other European banks are also in the region and are becoming increasingly aggressive.

The Corporate Finance business line has been one of the main drivers of the Bank s strategy to build bridges between the Gulf region, Asia and Africa.

With economies in Asia, Africa and the Middle East experiencing the strongest rates of growth in the 2000s, trade and investment flows, as well as business partnerships, between the regions naturally began to flourish. BNP Paribas found that its strong presence and relationships in these regions historically in the Middle East and Francophone Africa, but increasingly in Sub-Saharan Africa and South and Southeast Asia became a valuable asset to clients.

At the same time, companies in the Gulf were maturing fast and developing ambitious growth strategies. But with their home markets offering few acquisition targets, many began to look overseas, especially to countries in Africa and Asia where inter-governmental relationships had developed.

Companies in the Gulf want to be global players, but the bulk of growth in the Middle East is organic and there is a scarcity of acquisition targets, said Vincent Prot, Head of Corporate Finance for the Middle East and Africa region. So in the early 2000s, we saw

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