The Hong Kong-based Peregrine Group has scrapped plans to establish a new investment bank in Bahrain, and will scale down its operations to a sales office. But the group says it will continue to develop and market new products in the region, including the launch of a cash management account specifically designed for Middle East investors (MEED 17:11:96).

‘This is a strategic business decision,’ says acting chief executive officer in Bahrain, Pervaiz Baig. ‘The decision was taken because our area for organisation is basically the Far East and this does not include the Middle East.

We will continue to have a sales office, and in the long-run we will grow our operations as our business grows.’ The change in strategy has led to a shake up in the management, and the resignation of Asad Jamal, who was managing-director and chief executive officer in Bahrain. The number of staff has been reduced from 10, and Pervaiz Baig is now heading the Bahrain operations.

‘We are actively marketing our products in the Middle East, but we will not originate corporate finance, project finance and direct investment (from Bahrain) as we were previously thinking,’ says Baig. Peregrine had planned to launch an investment bank with capital of $100 million early in 1996, after opening an office in Manama in October 1994. Baig says the capital had already been pledged by individual and institutional investors from the Middle East. However, Peregrine has decided to continue its geographic focus in Asia, and leave expanding its operations in Bahrain as a long-term option.

The sales office in Bahrain expects to launch a cash management account in the Middle East in the next two months. The new product, which has been designed in Bahrain, will offer the opportunity for high net worth individuals and small institutions to place investments in Asia through the accounts.

Baig says Peregrine is the first Asian bank to sell this kind of product into the Middle East.