EFG Hermes, a leading investment bank, recently conducted its EFG Hermes Saudi Forum in London. The two-day event was held in collaboration with the Saudi Exchange and featured over 50 leading Saudi companies from various sectors and 375 guests from around the world. Guests included representatives from the Saudi Capital Market Authority (CMA), the Public Investment Fund (PIF), as well as over 200 institutional investors and fund managers.
It was there that we met with Saud Altassan, Chief Executive Officer at EFG Hermes KSA, and held the below interview.
What are the main objectives of the EFG Hermes Saudi Forum in London, and why was London chosen as the venue?
The main purpose behind it is that we’re focusing on Saudi. As you know, EFG is known to have annual conferences. We have two such events every year, and we have one in London, but it usually covers the entire region.
However, given all the changes, the very positive changes that are happening in Saudi right now, we thought it would make sense for us to create a dedicated conference for Saudi Arabia to enable companies there to meet with potential foreign investors and hopefully showcase the unique opportunities that we have in the kingdom.
As to why we chose London? London is one of the biggest financial hubs in the world. Given that the theme is to attract foreign investment into Saudi, it makes sense for the event to be hosted in London, and so we’re happy to be here.
What are the key topics and themes at the forum, and how do they relate to Saudi’s business and investment landscape?
I think they cover a broad spectrum. It’s not limited to one sector. I think it’s just an opportunity for companies to showcase what investment opportunities they have that perhaps many foreign investors aren’t aware of or wouldn’t be unless they are here.
We wanted to use the platform and the access that we have at EFG Hermes to actually enable Saudi companies to actually sit, and allow foreign investors to sit and have one-on-one meetings with Saudi companies, to have that level of engagement, to really understand where the opportunity is and hopefully, ultimately for them to invest.
How does the forum promote networking and collaboration between Saudi and international businesses and investors?
EFG Hermes has over 40 years of experience in the entire region and almost 17 years in Saudi. This has been a role that EFG Hermes has been playing for many, many years. It’s not just this conference. This conference is, in fact, just an extension of all the efforts that we’ve been putting in the past.
We have extremely high ambitions for Saudi. We are extremely bullish on Saudi. We are expanding our efforts in Saudi. We’re trying to utilize all the resources, the platform, and access we have to attract even more foreign investments into the country.
What potential opportunities can participants expect to arise from attending the EFG Hermes Saudi Forum?
I think just in terms of initial signals, the turnout has been exceptional. It’s been great. We have some of the biggest names, and largest institutions already here. When we look at some of the private rooms, they’re all pretty much fully booked, I mean, we tried to go and sit in some of them, and we couldn’t find any chairs. I think that’s a really excellent signal. Like most of our conferences, the feedback is what we rely on the most. If companies are happy, and investors are happy, then we’ve done our job, and we’re hoping to have some positive feedback afterwards.
Any advice for investors and businesses looking to engage with the Saudi market, considering the insights shared at the forum?
To foreign investors, we say come to Saudi. There’s no better place for you to see, to witness the potential, unless you actually come to Saudi. This is a conversation I have with a lot of my friends in the Western world. They read about the changes in Saudi and they say, “Yeah, we hear there are all kinds of changes.” But in reality, if you haven’t been to Saudi, there’s no way you can grasp how dramatic and how big of a change is happening in the country. I think that for anyone who is interested in exploring unique investment opportunities, they should come to Saudi. We have a lot to offer.
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