Finance Spanish bank targets GCC growth from Dubai office By Pramod Kumar August 31, 2023 Reuters Spanish bank Alantra will operate from Dubai International Financial Centre Spanish investment bank Alantra plans to expand its business in the Gulf with the opening of a new office in Dubai. The lender is interviewing candidates and hoping to announce new hires before the end of the year, Reuters reported. The investment bank announced it had receiving approval to operate from the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC). Abu Dhabi fund buys share of hotel group in Spain Deals surge as trade between Spain and UAE increases Riyadh Air and Atlético Madrid sign sponsorship deal “DIFC was a natural choice for Alantra when we decided to set up our investment banking activities in the Middle East, given Dubai’s strategic location and top-notch infrastructure,” Saad Ashraf, senior executive officer and managing partner, Alantra DIFC, said. In addition, the bank has relocated a significant part of its global marine and shipping investment banking sector team to the DIFC, he added. Alantra initiated its coverage of the Middle East at the end of 2021, mainly focusing on the maritime and offshore sector through its shipping team based in Athens, now based in the DIFC. Since then, the bank has completed 20 transactions worth more than $1 billion. The Dubai office will also focus on the healthcare, real estate, technology and consumer goods sectors. Several European investment banks have established their presence in the Gulf as oil companies and governments seek to attract foreign capital and diversify revenues. DIFC, the emirate’s main financial hub, housed a total of 4,949 companies at the end of June, a 23 percent annual increase. The number of employees in the free zone grew by 3,057 to 39,140, up 20 percent, as the first six months of the year saw high demand for commercial space. DIFC leased more than 233,000 sq ft commercial space and occupancy rates stood at 99 percent.