VTB Capital's hiring spree signals global intent
International Financing Review online (UK)
By Sudip Roy
LONDON, Feb 22 (IFR) - VTB Capital continues its global expansion with a series of hires in its Middle East and Africa investment banking business.
The Russian bank has taken on five people in Dubai from rival global firms including Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank and UBS, IFR can reveal.
The hires include James Williams as head of Middle East equity trading; Karim Nsouli as head of Middle East cash equity sales and sales trading; Ali Salam as head of strategic equity distribution (Middle East); Ziad Al Amin, head of multi-product origination and distribution (Middle East); and Nick Bye in Middle East equity structuring. VTB Capital's Middle East and Africa business is headed by Makram Abboud, chief executive for the region.
The hires are another sign of VTB Capital's global ambitions. Earlier this year it hired Damian Chunilal to head its Asia business. Chunilal, who spent 19 years at Merrill Lynch before leaving in 2008 in the wake of the Bank of America takeover, will oversee the growth of VTB Capital's Hong Kong office, which it launched in November.
Atanas Bostandjiev, chief executive of VTB Capital's international business, says the firm's expansion is a natural development of its role as an intermediator of capital both into and out of Russia. "We have a commercial function but at the same time we fulfill various important economic and capital market development functions. To do this in the best possible way, we need to be able to offer a full spectrum of banking products and access to international capital. That's why we're building internationally."
Bostandjiev adds that VTB Capital's growth beyond Russia makes it competitive against global banks. "Historically, the expertise has lain with western financial institutions. Therefore if a company wanted financial advice it had to go to New York or London to get it done. Now, with the emergence of regional banks that have niche market knowledge but with a full spectrum of products they no longer need to do that."
While Russia and the CIS will continue to be the bank's main focus, VTB Capital soon hopes to be originating non-Russian risk too, according to Bostandjiev, especially in emerging Europe.
"We want to expand in central and eastern Europe and the Balkans and increase our product offering too," he says. "It won't be blanket coverage but the obvious starting point would be natural resources. This is an area where we have existing expertise."
Andrey Solovyev, global head of debt capital markets, says the bank hopes to execute a couple of non-Russian debt deals this year. "In certain countries there may be opportunities for sophisticated trades," he says.
Solovyev adds, however, that maintaining VTB Capital's leading position in Russia is his first priority. The firm was number one in both debt and equity league tables for Russia last year.