Top Israeli bank chairman to speak at Saudi investment event

A man speaks on the phone as he walks past a branch of Bank Leumi in Tel Aviv, Israel November 22, 2021. Picture taken November 22, 2021. REUTERS/Corinna Kern

DUBAI, Oct 25 (Reuters) - The chairman of Israel's Bank Leumi (LUMI.TA) is due to speak at Saudi Arabia's flagship investment conference in Riyadh on Thursday, in the latest sign of a potential thawing in relations between the two countries.

Relations between Israel and some Gulf Arab states have been warming in recent years as they share concerns over Iran's influence in the region. In 2020, Riyadh's Gulf allies the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain signed historic U.S.-brokered deals to normalise relations with Israel.

Organisers of the FII conference confirmed Bank Leumi chairman Samer Haj Yehia's planned attendance in response to a Reuters query. Bank Leumi, one of Israel's two largest banks, declined to comment.

Haj Yehia is due to speak on a panel titled "transforming banking and investment for the resilient economy" alongside other top finance executives, including from Rothschild & Company, Societe Generale and Wells Fargo, according to FII's agenda.

Haj Yehia is the first Arab Israeli to serve as the bank's chairman.

The FII's sixth edition is being held amid a public spat between Riyadh and Washington over a decision by OPEC+ to cut oil production, a move U.S. President Joe Biden vowed would have "consequences" for U.S.-Saudi ties.

Top Wall Street executives, including JPMorgan's Jamie Dimon, Goldman Sachs' David Solomon and a host of others, attended the event's first day on Tuesday.

Reporting by Yousef Saba in Dubai and Ari Rabinovitch in Jerusalem Editing by Mark Potter

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