| DUBAI, March 29
DUBAI, March 29 Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group
(MUFG) expects double-digit growth in its project
finance business in the Middle East in 2017, driven partly by
Saudi Arabia's efforts to reduce its dependence on oil, the
bank's co-head in the region Elyas Algaseer said.
Saudi Arabia's push to diversify its economy under its
National Transformation Plan provides a big opportunity for
international banks, as well as the privatisation of
state-controlled enterprises such as Saudi Aramco's
planned initial public offering.
MUFG, which is ranked as one of the leading project finance
lenders globally and in the region, is working with clients in
the Middle East including Saudi Aramco, Acwa Power IPO-ACWA.SE
and Mubadala Development, Algaseer said.
MUFG was expecting around $350 billion in project finance
opportunities in Saudi Arabia by 2022 and more across the region
in areas such as power, alternative energy, health and
education, Algaseer said.
"In this part of the world, they do have good liquidity
reserves and good underground energy reserves and a good need to
shift from relying on oil, so if these come through we should be
on a lot of these deals because of our credentials and because
of our know how," he said in an interview.
Algaseer said there were also a lot more openings from
privatisations in the country, estimating that there would be
$300 billion in such opportunities by 2022.
Saudi Arabia already has plans to list up to 5 percent of
oil company Saudi Aramco that could raise as much as $100
billion via a listing in Riyadh and one or more international
Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe this month asked Saudi
Arabia's King Salman to support a listing of Aramco's shares in
Tokyo. Other markets, including New York, London, Hong Kong,
Singapore and Toronto, are also vying for a role.
"I won't say it's [a Tokyo listing] a high possibility but
it's not impossible," Algaseer said. He also said that the large
size of the sale meant it would be hard for only two centres to
"If they do go to Japan they will definitely consider to
have MUFG to launch it and if they go somewhere else there's a
good possibility to let MUFG and its partner Morgan Stanley
to launch it."
Morgan Stanley and MUFG have several partnerships, stemming
from a $9 billion investment MUFG provided the Wall Street bank
at the height of the financial crisis. MUFG now owns 23.2
percent of Morgan Stanley, making it the bank's largest
shareholder, according to Thomson Reuters data.
MUFG's banking subsidiary, The Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ,
expects to open its first branch in Saudi Arabia in 2018 after
becoming the first Japanese bank to receive a licence in the
kingdom late last year, he said.
(Editing by Jane Merriman)