It is one of the most dynamic regions in the world. The MENAT (Middle East, North Africa and Turkey) economic area is a place where emerging sectors such as renewable energy, healthcare and food security are thriving alongside the established industries of oil and gas that have powered the region for decades.
It is a priority for Italian bank Intesa Sanpaolo, which now boasts an extensive network, including a physical presence in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Doha, Istanbul, Cairo and Beirut.
“We are the largest Italian bank here in the region,” explains Alessandro Rotoli, Head of Italian Desk, Intesa Sanpaolo Dubai Hub. “We offer a variety of services and products from cash management to bank guarantees, loans, and we also have a specialist in trade finance, in structured finance, in acquisition finance. So basically, we offer a whole footprint.”
The bank has evolved from being simply the Italian frontrunner in the area into a financial powerhouse at the heart of business in the region. It has achieved this by understanding the intricacies of diverse local markets.
“To do business here, there are three main aspects that every company has to consider: trust, commitment and a long-term investment,” explains Rotoli.
It’s the combination of Intesa Sanpaolo’s vision and sensitivity, and the energy of several diverse but energetic territories that is providing the momentum.
“We do a lot with local corporates, multinationals and sovereign wealth funds who are very present in the region. We are the gateway for local investors into Italy and Europe”
Marco Trevisan, General Manager of Intesa Sanpaolo’s Dubai hub
“Take Abu Dhabi, which represents a unique opportunity given the dynamism of its domestic market,” says Pietro Calugi, General Manager of the Abu Dhabi corporate branch.
“The government is trying to diversify its economy. ADNOC (Abu Dhabi National Oil Company) is planning to invest over $50 billion in the next five years. Diversification of the energy mix is ranking high on the government agenda.”
Intesa Sanpaolo is also aware of the region’s opportunities. Daniele Fanin, General Manager of the Doha corporate branch, says: “Qatar is the largest liquified natural gas exporter in the world. Infrastructure, particularly the civil infrastructure sector, has become very important.
“The country has earmarked more than $200 billion investment in the infrastructure sector for the Qatar 2030 Vision.”
Furthermore, the bank has been especially successful in one of the markets that is geographically closest to its home base – Turkey.
“The Istanbul branch is now one of the reference points to get advice on how to do business in Turkey,” says Ufuk Bali, General Manager of the Istanbul corporate branch.
“Since we set up the branch, we have onboarded the 25 largest companies of Turkey into Intesa Sanpaolo. We have clients from many different industries – telecoms, infrastructure, household appliances, machinery.
“We provide solutions to their trade finance needs, project finance and capital markets solutions. We were part of a very large deal in 2018 – part of the Dardanelles bridge, which is going to be the longest suspension bridge in the world.”
Intesa Sanpaolo’s presence in the region has also leveraged opportunities for funds in MENAT to access Italian markets.
“We do a lot with local corporates, multinationals, sovereign wealth funds who are present in the region. We are the gateway for local investors into Italy and Europe,” explains Marco Trevisan, General Manager of Intesa Sanpaolo’s Dubai hub.
Intesa Sanpaolo is optimistic about the region. “There is an Arabic motto that says: dream, believe, dare and do,” says Calugi. “It is something they seem to have fully embraced – and it is something that we too embrace.”
Opening the new potential of the Gulf
Intesa Sanpaolo’s plans for a global circular economy are coming to life in Dubai, where demand for sustainable buildings and transport offers great opportunities for Italian start-ups
Hyperloop: Turning the hype into reality
Bibop Gresta, Co-Founder and Chairman of Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (HyperloopTT), believes modern, sustainable travel will change the way we live and protect our planet