ANZ Grindlays Bank wants to become more involved in project financing and crossborder financing transactions in the Gulf states and is tracking several deals in the region, its Middle East general manager David Smith says. The bank is considering setting up branches in Lebanon and Azerbaijan and is boosting its retail and private banking services in the Gulf.

‘Over the past decade, local banks have become far more sophisticated,’ Smith told MEED in an interview on 1 October. ‘It means that foreign banks cannot just rely on doing the traditional business.

‘Being able to bring in international expertise in project finance is one way we can achieve future expansion.’ ANZ was co-lead manager on the recent Saudi Iron & Steel Company (Hadeed) financing.

ANZ is recapitalising its two-branch operation in Oman into a joint-stock, locallyincorporated bank known as The Oman Savings & Finance Bank (OSFB). ANZ will hold a minority stake and provide technical and management support. The deal won official approval on 30 September (see Oman).

‘In Oman, locally-incorporated banks are in a much better position to take advantage of the local market. That is why we decided to restructure our operations,’ Smith said. The bank will strongly emphasise project finance and cross-border lending.

ANZ Grindlays has a presence in five Gulf states. It is considering a presence in Lebanon and Azerbaijan and is also expanding its product services, strengthening its management team around the Gulf for its non-resident Indian (NRI) services and building up its private banking activities, with Dubai acting as its regional hub.