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DBS Builds Dubai "Strategic Hub"

Tom Burroughes, Group Editor , London, 27 November 2018


The Singapore-listed group is stepping up its presence in the Middle East, making a top-level appointment to drive growth in the region from an enlarged Dubai centre.

Singapore-headquartered DBS announced today it wants to build a “strategic hub” in Dubai as part of its drive to expand in the Middle East during the next five years.

The bank said it wants to be regarded as the “partner of choice for clients wishing to access the Asian market”. 

DBS has appointed Rudiger von Wedel as head of international business, DBS Private Bank. Based in Dubai, he takes over from Rob Ioannou, who will be moving on to lead DBS’ wealth, trust and estate planning business, as well as drive the build out of DBS’ single family office offering and Australian desk. Von Wedel, who will be reporting to Lawrence Lua, deputy head of private bank, is a veteran in the industry and was most recently CEO of the global wealth division of the National Bank of Abu Dhabi (NBAD).

To some degree, DBS’ move puts it up against the likes of Bank of Singapore, which last year opened a 75-person office in the Dubai International Financial Centre.  DBS has been present in Dubai and says that over the past seven years, its Dubai branch revenues have grown by 20 per cent per annum. Established in March 2006, DBS’ Dubai branch became the first Singapore-based bank to receive a banking license at the DIFC.

“Targeting the region’s growing presence of ultra-high net worth (UHNW) and high net worth (HNW) individuals, family offices and sovereign wealth funds, the bank also aims to triple its revenue over the next five years by focusing on increasing client diversity, spread and penetration,” the bank said.

DBS said it is building a “bespoke investment portfolio” including private equity funds within growth segments such as e-commerce, health technology, real estate, logistics and fintech across growing Asian markets; structured products in key segments for China and India; dual currency loans; and REIT initial public offerings with underlying assets in Europe and North America.

Tan Su Shan, group head of wealth management and consumer banking, DBS Bank: “As the former Development Bank of Singapore, DBS believes that the UAE and Singapore are strongly linked by their shared values of innovation, technological progress and visionary thinking, making Dubai a natural choice for a regional hub.”

"Wealth in the Middle East remains on the rise, with the number of ultra-HNW clients with more than $500 million in assets in this region projected to increase by 28 per cent – from 390 in 2017, to approximately 500 in 2022. With Middle East client appetite for Asia wealth solutions growing, DBS is well-positioned to support our Middle East clients in accessing Asia’s growth opportunities through our strong Asian network, innovative investment solutions and world-class digital capabilities," she added.


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