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Sberbank setting up Mideast subsidiary

By Andrei Skvarsky.

Russia’s biggest lender Sberbank is planning an addition to its global network by establishing an investment subsidiary for the Middle East, to practise both conventional and Islamic investment banking, and expects to open it by the end of 2020.

Regulators in Russia and the United Arab Emirates have given the go-ahead to setting up what would be called Sberinvest Middle East Limited and be based in Abu Dhabi, Sberbank said in a statement.

Sberbank, which expects the UAE regulator to license the subsidiary towards the end of this year, has hired Andrei Ugarov, a financier with a long record of business in the Middle East and Africa, as chief executive of Sberinvest Middle East.

Ugarov was country head for Saudi Arabia at Abu Dhabi-based investment and advisory company The National Investor (TNI), vice-president of Saudi investment banking firm Financial Transaction House (FTH) and a West Africa-focused partner at accountancy company PwC.

Sberbank deputy chief executive Oleg Ganeev has been appointed chairman of Sberinvest Middle East.

Sberinvest Middle East would chiefly focus on brokering investment deals between Russian and Middle Eastern companies, according to the statement.

Its UAE licence is expected to cover both conventional and Islamic investment banking.

Sberbank already uses Islamic banking instruments in its trade and project financing and has an Islamic banking division.

Behnam Gurbanzada, who heads the division and is credited with having created it from scratch, will oversee Islamic banking at Sberinvest Middle East.

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