Italy’s UBI Banca has opened a representative office in Dubai, to advise Italian small and medium enterprises (SMEs) working in the UAE.

It will focus on SMEs in the construction sector, and those interested in investing in manufacturing in the UAE.

“We have a great expertise in the Italian know-how, ’made in Italy’ etc. but Italy has been absent from this crucial platform as far as the financial sector is concerned,” says Liborio Stellina, Italian ambassador to the UAE. “This represents Italian expertise supported by serious Italian financial actor to give this platform and enhance the role in the region.”

It has also signed a memorandum of understanding with local Etihad Energy Services Company. This will support Italian companies bidding for contracts on its energy efficient retrofitting programme.

Etihad plans to invest $500m in retrofitting public buildings by 2018.

“Italy has no oil and gas resources so we are used to expensive energy and trying to save money on this,” says Andrea Moltrasio, chairman of UBI Banca’s board. “Our construction companies have developed methods for saving energy and water in buildings.”

The number of Italian company’s active in the UAE has risen from 200 in 2011 to 600 today. UAE imports from Italy reached $185bn in 2014, making the country Italy’s 15th largest trading partner.

UBI Banca has also noticed an increased interest from UAE companies looking to expand into Italy.

The new representative office will also advise on cross-border mergers & acquisitions, but lending activity will be managed from Italy.

UBI Banca joins Intesa Sanpaolo, Italy’s largest retail bank, in offering services in the UAE.

Italian export credit agency inks Iran deal

Tehran, capital city of Iran

Tehran, capital city of Iran

Italian export credit agency Sace and the Central Bank of Iran have signed a settlement agreement for the recovery of the sovereign credit due to Sace by Iranian counterparties.

The agreement was signed during President Hassan Rouhani’s visit to Italy, the leader’s first visit to Europe since nuclear-related sanctions on Tehran were lifted earlier in January.

The agreement involves the payment to Sace of €564m ($614m) in three instalments by 15 October 2016. The credit will cover claims paid by Sace to Italian companies for loans unpaid by Iranian counterparties following the block of the payment systems imposed by international sanctions. Read more