Senior bankers leave BofA's MidEast ops: sources

Mon Nov 26, 2012 7:58am EST
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By Dinesh Nair and Mirna Sleiman

DUBAI (Reuters) - The head of Bank of America Merrill Lynch's (BAC.N: Quote) Middle East and North Africa unit has left following an overhaul of the U.S. lender's regional investment banking operations, three sources said.

A spokeswoman for BofA in the Middle East confirmed the departure of Phil Southwell, hired in May 2011 to run the bank's MENA business, and also the resignation of Ziad Awad.

Awad, a managing director with the bank for more than five years, has resigned and will leave at the end of the year, sources had also said on Monday, speaking on condition of anonymity as the matter has not been publicly disclosed.

BofA's investment bank has been hit by a string of departures and reshuffles this year with, for example, high-profile dealmaker Andrea Orcel leaving to join Swiss bank UBS UBSN.VX.

Southwell, the Gulf CEO for EFG Hermes (HRHO.CA: Quote) since 2009 prior to joining BofA, had reporting to Orcel when he was first hired, one of the sources said.

Waleed El-Amir, the investment banking head for Middle East, North Africa and Turkey, left in May to join Italian bank UniCredit (CRDI.MI: Quote).

"Most of the global banks operating in the region are realising that the business opportunities here are not as big as they initially thought it would be. A global slowdown for deals has made the situation even worse," the source said.

"You will see many other examples of top bankers moving or relocating to other places. The volumes are just not there."   Continued...