A Goldman Sachs Group Inc. logo hangs on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange in New York, U.S. (Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg)  

Goldman Plans Multibillion Dollar Deal to Fuel Saudi Growth

(Bloomberg) -- Goldman Sachs Group Inc. has approached a Saudi state-owned entity about a multibillion-dollar deal as the U.S. lender prepares to use its own money in the kingdom for the first time.

“We’re very keen on deploying our principal capital in the region in both forms: credit and equity capital,” Wassim Younan, the bank’s chief executive officer for the Middle East and North Africa, said in an interview in Riyadh. “We continue to prospect for opportunities to do so, and we’ve put forward at least one meaningful, multibillion-dollar proposal to a state-owned enterprise.”

Younan declined to name the company or to give more details about the type of deal the bank is looking at. Goldman, which has traditionally advised companies and governments on takeovers and fundraising efforts in the region, is looking for opportunities in the kingdom to invest the firm’s own capital alongside its clients, Younan said in a March interview.

The U.S. lender has been building its presence in Saudi Arabia for some time, boosting headcount, securing a stock-trading license and getting involved in key deals including the kingdom’s dollar bond sale. The bank hired veteran banker Ammar Al-Khudairy, who previously oversaw Morgan Stanley’s operations in Saudi Arabia, to help identify opportunities for investment, Younan said in March.

Sizeable Deals

Goldman has already been involved in sizable deals in Saudi Arabia and wants to make sure it’s well placed to take advantage as the nation diversifies its economy away from oil and opens up to foreign investment. It was hired last year to advise Jabal Omar Development Co. on a potential merger with Umm Al Qura Development and is said to be among banks likely to manage the Saudi Aramco IPO, which could the world’s largest share sale.

The New York-based firm is doubling its headcount in Saudi Arabia, CEO Lloyd Blankfein said in a video message at a conference in Riyadh on Sunday. Goldman has already boosted its staffing in the city by two times over the past two years, according to Younan.

“If you ask me today what is the trend for our staffing levels, I’ll tell you for sure, upwards,” he said.

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