DUBAI Nov 26 The head of Bank of America
Merrill Lynch's Middle East and North Africa unit has
left following an overhaul of the U.S. lender's regional
investment banking operations, three sources said.
A spokeswoman for BofA in the Middle East confirmed the
departure of Phil Southwell, hired in May 2011 to run the bank's
MENA business, and also the resignation of Ziad Awad.
Awad, a managing director with the bank for more than five
years, has resigned and will leave at the end of the year,
sources had also said on Monday, speaking on condition of
anonymity as the matter has not been publicly disclosed.
BofA's investment bank has been hit by a string of
departures and reshuffles this year with, for example,
high-profile dealmaker Andrea Orcel leaving to join Swiss bank
Southwell, the Gulf CEO for EFG Hermes since 2009
prior to joining BofA, had reporting to Orcel when he was first
hired, one of the sources said.
Waleed El-Amir, the investment banking head for Middle East,
North Africa and Turkey, left in May to join Italian bank
"Most of the global banks operating in the region are
realising that the business opportunities here are not as big as
they initially thought it would be. A global slowdown for deals
has made the situation even worse," the source said.
"You will see many other examples of top bankers moving or
relocating to other places. The volumes are just not there."
In October, BofA named Wadih Boueiz, a veteran Merrill Lynch
banker, and Hakim Karoui, previously with Citigroup as
co-heads of investment banking for MENA.
The bank is trying to follow its U.S. model of an integrated
corporate and investment bank in emerging markets following the
acquisition of Merrill Lynch in 2008.
Other global banks, including Credit Suisse,
Deutsche Bank and Rothschild have cut investment
banking jobs in the region in recent months amid dwindling deal
Middle East investment banking fees were $235 million in the
first half of 2012, up 5 percent but a far cry from the nearly
$1 billion fees earned by banks during the boom years of 2005
and 2006, Thomson Reuters data showed.
That fee pool has to be shared between as many as 20 global
banks who have hired or brought in senior bankers to win
business in the region.