Dubai: Saudi Arabia hired HSBC Holdings banker Fahad Al Saif to start a debt management office that will be responsible for the kingdom’s first international bond sale, two people with knowledge of the matter said.
Al Saif joined the Ministry of Finance on an open-ended secondment from HSBC’s Saudi British Bank, the people said, asking not to be identified as the information is private. At Saudi British, in which HSBC holds a 40 per cent stake, he was general manager of global banking and markets. Al Saif is also a board member at HSBC Saudi Arabia.
Al Saif is the second HSBC banker to move into a government role in Saudi Arabia in the past few months after Mohammad Al Tuwaijri, the bank’s chief executive officer for the Middle East, was appointed deputy economy and planning minister. The moves come Saudi Arabia witnesses an unprecedented shakeup of the kingdom’s economy to reduce the country’s reliance on oil receipts.
Saudi Arabia is poised to join other countries from the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) tapping foreign markets to plug budget deficits caused by lower crude prices. The kingdom earlier this month sent invitations to banks to arrange a bond sale, three people familiar with the plans said. It plans to tap international debt markets as early as September, Minister of State Mohammad bin Abdulmalik Al Sheikh said during a meeting between Bloomberg News and the Deputy Crown Prince last month.
In a joint statement, SABB and HSBC confirmed Al Saif’s secondment to the Ministry of Finance and said that "while there, he remains an HSBC Saudi Arabia Limited employee but has relinquished all management and board responsibilities with Saudi British Bank and HSBC to avoid any potential conflicts of interest.” The Finance Ministry declined to comment.
In May, Saudi Arabia’s stock market said it hired HSBC’s Saudi unit as a financial adviser for its initial public offering, beating off competition from Wall Street banks and other international investment banks. HSBC Saudi Arabia has also been appointed to advise the government on the partial privatization of Saudi Arabia’s Grain Silos and Flour Mills Organisation, one of the first under the kingdom’s new economic reform plan, two people with knowledge of the matter said in April.