Currently the bank, which is the largest in Saudi Arabia by assets, has just one person in its syndications team in Bahrain, the recently appointed Narayn Prasad. He is now expected to be joined by the Riyadh-based team later this year, as well as several new recruits.

“The Riyadh team will be moving to Bahrain and then we will look at hiring more people,” says one source at the bank.

The team in Bahrain could number as many as 10. The bank will keep a smaller syndications team in Saudi Arabia, based at its headquarters in Jeddah.

The strategy is part of NCB’s plan to develop its investment banking presence in the region, which includes a tie-up with US bank Goldman Sachs and bolstering its project finance team (MEED 9:5:08).

It also marks a new emphasis on markets outside Saudi Arabia. Earlier this year, the bank’s investment banking subsidiary, NCB Capital, purchased a stake in Dubai-based private equity firm HBG Holdings, in one of NCB’s first moves outside Saudi Arabia.

The prospects for the syndications team, which will be competing with others that are well established in Bahrain, are uncertain.

“There is already a strong syndications presence in Bahrain from a number of established banks,” says one Saudi banker.