Bank of American hiring in Middle East as sovereign wealth funds target U.S.


Bank of America Corp., the second- largest U.S. lender by assets, is hiring bankers in the Middle East as sovereign wealth funds and companies target North American investments amid the nation’s economic recovery.

The bank is “selectively” recruiting in the Persian Gulf and relocated people from Europe as business picks up, Wadih Boueiz, head of corporate and investment banking and sovereign wealth for the Middle East and North Africa, said in an interview at the World Economic Forum in Jordan on Saturday. BofA is also boosting lending to companies in the region as it seeks to win more investment banking mandates, he said.

“We’re going to see a lot more investments from sovereign wealth funds and corporates in the U.S.,” Boueiz said. “Most of the effort and attention of SWFs in recent years was in Europe and Asia and a lot of people feel as though they missed the boat with the U.S. This is working to our advantage.”

BofA earlier this month helped arrange a $1.2 billion bond deal by the Iowa Finance Authority to fund a fertilizer plant being built by Egypt’s Orascom Construction Industries.

BofA is the Gulf region’s fourteenth largest bond underwriter this year, up from thirtieth in 2012, helping to arrange $469 million of deals for borrowers in the region, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The bank is one of the bookrunners for Majid Al Futtaim which plans to raise about $500 million from a bond sale this week.

Rising home values and record stock prices are giving U.S. households the confidence to sustain spending, helping the economy weather federal budget cuts that are projected to curb the expansion. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke last week signaled policy makers will not reduce record stimulus until gains in employment are sustained.

“There’s a lot of growth in the U.S.,” Boueiz said. “Valuations are good, corporates are doing well and the economy is doing better. We’re not out of the woods but the numbers are showing progress.”