Report: Top Dubai banker Asghar leaving Lazard to start boutique

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U.S. investment bank Lazard Ltd's most senior banker in Dubai, Ali Asghar, has left to set up his own emerging markets-focused boutique firm, three sources familiar with the matter said.

Reuters News reports that Asghar, who headed Lazard's Dubai office as a director, joined the bank in 2007 and focused on mergers and acquisitions advisory, restructuring and capital raising in the Gulf Arab region.

Global investment banks scaled back their Middle Eastern operations in 2012 due to a dearth of deals and pressure to cut costs from larger centres like London and New York.

Asghar's departure effectively means Lazard has no senior bankers in Dubai and will rely on staff in London and other major centres to execute and originate deals, the sources said. In the Middle East, Lazard also has an office in Riyadh for investment banking functions. One of the sources said Asghar left Lazard in July.

The firm also advised Qatar Holding, the investment arm of the Gulf state's sovereign wealth fund, in negotiations with Glencore last year when the fund threatened to derail its merger with Xstrata unless the terms were improved.

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