RBS pledges its expertise to support long-term Qatar growth
June 15, 2011
The Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) has applauded Qatar’s efforts at creating an economy for the long term, one that will be prosperous and broad-based.
“It is impossible to come here without being impressed,” RBS group chief executive Stephen Hester said in an interview with Gulf Times in Doha.
He said the Government of Qatar has been “really smart” in paying attention to multiple aspects of the country’s development.
“By establishing an LNG industry, the foundation for wealth generation has been laid. Let us not forget the fact that it was a huge and bold investment by Qatar in liquefied natural gas, which was not a developed technology at that time. After many years of heavy investment, it is now coming into its own. It is really paying off,” Hester said during a brief tour of Qatar recently.
He said it was admirable to see how Qatar is using its strong foundation on energy and related industries to broaden the economy.
“Qatar has realised the need to invest heavily in infrastructure, and rightly so. Without infrastructure, it is useless. This time I am impressed with Qatar’s growing emphasis on the softer aspects such as healthcare and education,” Hester said.
Asked what role RBS intended to play in Qatar’s development, he said, “Our relationship with Qatar began some 20 years ago: from the beginning of project finance in the energy industry. We greatly value our relationship. “And we will expand all our efforts to support the economy here through financing, through ideas of diversifying the wealth internationally, in both directions. And where we have advisory expertise, we will bring that here. Where we have expertise in financial and risk management, we will bring that as well. RBS will work in partnership with our good clients here.”
The Edinburgh-based global bank opened its branch at the Qatar Financial Centre with a focus on investment banking, and private banking through RBS Coutts, the private banking arm.
The bank obtained the QFC licence about four years ago and has physically been on the ground in Doha for that period of time.
RBS is looking to add more people to its team as it sees tremendous prospects for its businesses in Qatar.
“In essence, what we are trying to do is to help intermediate global capital flows. So always, here or anywhere, there is one leg of what we are doing in the region and another leg of what we are doing in some other place. We are linking our own network and we don’t have any business that stands on its own – it is always part of our global network,” Hester said.
RBS was the financial adviser to the deal involving Qatar Petroleum and ExxonMobil on the Barzan Gas Project. “It is a transaction, which we anticipate to come to the market at some point during the course of the year. We recognise it as a project strategically important for Qatar as its aim is to supply gas to the local industries,” Hester said.
“What we see in Qatar today is incredible. It is a vision of great ambition. And of course, that means it will not be easy. There will be many challenges; certain things may even go wrong. But all of the efforts, energy and intelligence and support from friends will be important to make these happen. It is one thing to have ambition and another thing to do it.”
‘Bank committed to employing Qatari graduates’
The Royal Bank of Scotland is committed to offering employment to Qatari graduates and train them internationally, group chief executive Stephen Hester has said.
“On the theme of education and skill development, we will like to participate, even in an indirect way like that. It is a small initiative, but I am pleased with it,” Hester told Gulf Times.