Goldman Eyes Multibillion-Dollar Deal to Fuel Saudi Expansion

(Bloomberg) -

Sachs Group Inc. has approached a Saudi state-owned entity about a multibillion-dollar deal, according to the bank’s chief executive officer for the Middle East and North Africa.

“We’re very keen on deploying our principal capital in the region in both forms: credit and equity capital,” Wassim Younan said in an interview in Riyadh. “We continue to prospect for opportunities to do so, and we’ve put forward at least one meaningful, multibillion-dollar proposal to a state-owned enterprise.”

Younan declined to name the enterprise or to be more specific about the type of deal. He said the bank is waiting for a response.

The U.S. lender has been building its presence in Saudi Arabia for some time, boosting headcount, securing a stock-trading license and getting involved in key deals including the kingdom’s dollar bond sale. It wants to make sure it’s well placed to take advantage as the nation diversifies its economy away from oil and opens up to foreign investment.

Goldman has already been involved in sizable deals in the country. It was hired last year to advise Jabal Omar Development Co. on a potential merger with Umm Al Qura Development and is said to be among banks likely to manage the Saudi Aramco IPO, which could turn out to be the world’s largest initial public offering for the biggest crude exporter.

The New York-based firm also plans to double its headcount in Saudi Arabia, CEO Lloyd Blankfein said in a video message at a conference in Riyadh on Sunday. Goldman has already boosted its staffing in the city by two times over the past two years, according to Younan.

“If you ask me today what is the trend for our staffing levels, I’ll tell you for sure, upwards,” he said.