Barclays is increasing Middle East corporate banking headcount by 10%

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Barclays may be downsizing across the group, but the firm is continuing its expansion in the Middle East and intends to increase headcount by 10% in its corporate bank in 2013.

The bank is looking to push ahead with expansion of its corporate bank in the Middle East, primarily in the UAE, having made “a number of strategic hires” over the past year, according to Rezwan Mirza, head of the corporate banking division in the UAE and GCC.

“We expect to increase headcount by around 10% this year, primarily out of our UAE office in Dubai,” he said. Mirza declined to comment on current total headcount within the GCC corporate bank.

Globally, Barclays is looking to cut 3,700 jobs – including 1,800 in its investment bank – but it is expanding in the Middle East. Last year, it unveiled plans to add 100 jobs to its 1,000-strong team across the MENA region – primarily in wealth and investment management and trade finance – and is turning its attention to corporate bank in 2013.

“These will predominantly be client-facing roles, and at all levels of seniority from analyst through to director. However, we’re also recruiting across the board – for risk management, but also operations and even communications,” said Mirza.

The bank is also investing in its technology related to its corporate bank in the Middle East, he said

Like other international banks in the Middle East, Barclays is under pressure to hire more UAE nationals. However, Mirza insists that the bank will be searching internationally for new recruits. He points to the transferral of Oliver Baillie as head of cash management, UAE and GCC from Barclays in the UK in June last year as evidence of its global approach.

“For relationship manager roles, clearly it helps to understand the client base and have a good set of contacts to in the region, but for cash management, debt finance and other technical roles, it’s more about having the product knowledge, which means we can recruit globally,” he said.

Headcount has been shrinking in Barclays’ corporate bank globally – from 11,200 at the end of 2011 to 10,300 at 31 December last year. The Middle East is clearly a region of focus.

However, the bank’s plans to increase revenues by 25% annually in the MENA region over the next five years took a blow in 2012. The region generated about £4.5bn last year, a 9% reduction from the £4.96bn in 2011.