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Goldman Sachs plans Abu Dhabi office after 1MDB scandal

Goldman Sachs stock exchange Reuters
  • Firm had been snubbed by Abu Dhabi following Malaysia scandal
  • Goldman has since managed to claw back, win roles on key deals

An internal memo seen by Bloomberg shows that Goldman Sachs Group Inc is opening an office in Abu Dhabi Global Market, a free trade zone in the UAE capital, adding to its hubs in Doha, Dubai and Riyadh.

Assuming the office receives regulatory approval, it will mark a significant step forward in the rehabilitation of the US banking giant in the emirate, after it was shunned for involvement in the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) scandal.

In 2015, it emerged that billions of dollars had been embezzled from 1MDB, a Malaysian sovereign wealth fund. Goldman Sachs executives were convicted of bribing officials in Abu Dhabi and Malaysia in connection with the fraud and relations with the emirate became strained.

Since then, Goldman Sachs has managed to win roles in important deals in the UAE. It was a joint bookrunner on the sale of Abu Dhabi National Oil Company’s drilling operation in 2021, then the emirate’s largest-ever initial public offering.

Last year, the bank revealed plans to expand across the Middle East.

Abu Dhabi, home to sovereign wealth funds overseeing more than an estimated $1 trillion, has been attracting investment lately. Hedge fund manager Ray Dalio is setting up a branch of his family office in the emirate, as part of a push into the Middle East. 

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