The new office will be aimed at a clientele of institutional and private investors in the Gulf Cooperation Council States (GCC), viz. Saudi Arabia, Oman, Kuwait, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar. It will operate within the framework of the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC).
The representative office obtained the authorization of the Dubai Financial Services Authority, the independent regulator of the DIFC, on 9 June 2014. The DIFC is a financial free zone intended for foreign companies active in the field of finance and benefits from a separate legal framework based on Anglo-Saxon law.
The Gulf region is particularly dynamic and has been expanding rapidly for about ten years. Dubai, in particular, is displaying great economic vitality and has embarked on a major programme of economic diversification, in particular in new technologies, commerce and high-end tourism. With the DIFC and its stock exchange, the NASDAQ Dubai, its financial centre has established itself as the largest in the region.
Through this representative office, Banque SYZ & CO intends to promote its activities for institutional investors, such as sovereign funds, pension funds, institutions, multi-family offices and wealthy individuals. The office will cover all six GCC States. The office will also promote the OYSTER investment funds and will examine the opportunities for expansion in the region, such as the launch of specific products in cooperation with local partners.
Initially, the staff of the representative office will consist of George Azar, who will be the manager, and Imran Ahmed. George Azar, with more than 20 years in the financial sector, is a very experienced banker. Prior to joining SYZ & CO, Azar was in charge of the local office of Jefferies International Limited. Previously, he had spent 11 years with UBP, where he was CEO of the Qatar office, and 5 years as a private banker with SCS Alliance (which has since become Compagnie Bancaire Helvétique) in Beirut. Before that, he had worked for Merrill Lynch in Geneva for 5 years, also as a private banker.
Azar has a degree in Economics and holds an MBA in International Business from the American College of Switzerland. Imran Ahmed also joined SYZ & CO from Jefferies. Previously, he had spent 9 years with UBP, where he was Deputy Director and Deputy Head of institutional sales for North Africa and the Middle East. Prior to that, he had been a senior analyst in the Investment Banking division of the National Bank of Abu Dhabi and a senior analyst in the private office of His Highness the late Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan.
He graduated in Economics from the University of North Dakota.