* Saxo opens Abu Dhabi office, second in UAE
* MEA share of revs to hit 15 pct in 3-5 years - CEO
* Saxo could list in Copenhagen in three years
By Stanley Carvalho
ABU DHABI, May 28 Saxo Bank expects the Middle
East and Africa (MEA) to contribute around 15 percent of its
total revenue within five years, as the specialised investment
bank looks to tap the region's growing wealth, its co-founder
and chief executive said on Wednesday.
Speaking as the Copenhagen-based bank opened an office in
Abu Dhabi, its second in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Lars
Seier Christensen said the bank's revenue in the region had
already grown to 10 percent of the group total from between 3
and 4 percent in 2009.
"This region has great concentration of wealth and a
stronger regulatory environment now," Christensen told Reuters.
"From our perspective, we are hoping to take revenues from this
region to 15 percent (of total revenue) in the next three to
Abu Dhabi, the oil-rich capital of the UAE, is spending
billions of dollars on industry, tourism and infrastructure, and
is creating a new financial free-zone to draw in global firms,
similar to the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC).
Saxo, in which private equity firm TPG Capital has
a 30 percent stake, is among the world's top 30 foreign exchange
banks, based on volume transacted, and one of the biggest in
retail forex trading. Its rivals include FXCM Inc and
Interactive Brokers Group Inc.
But it is looking to diversify into other asset classes,
co-chief executive Kim Fournais told Reuters last year.
Saxo opened its first UAE office in Dubai in 2009 and is
looking to tap private investors and institutional clients in
Abu Dhabi and nearby markets with its online trading and
multi-asset products, Christensen said, as part of a strategy to
expand in emerging markets due to slower growth in Europe.
The bank is also moving more towards serving wealthier
clients as well as small-to-medium hedge funds and private
clients, a segment Christensen said was ignored by big
investment banks. Saxo has traditionally focused on retail
"There's an interesting gap there for us which is
under-serviced," he said.
He said Saxo could launch a stock market flotation in three
years' time, adding the bank would like to prove the value its
strategic initiatives first to extract the best share price.
"It depends on many things - the markets, whether it is the
right point ... a realistic time would be three years," he said.
An issue could probably be launched in Copenhagen. "We are a
bigger fish in a small pond and it could generate more interest
in the stock," he said, declined to estimate the bank's current
value but noting it was valued at $2 billion in 2011.
(Editing by David Holmes)