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Deutsche Bank AG plans to make Dubai its Africa hub

Rivals have done the opposite: moved from Dubai to Johannesburg.

Deutsche Bank AG plans to make the Dubai International Financial Centre the hub for its African operations, according to its local chief executive officer.

Ashok Aram, who heads Deutsche Bank in the Middle East, made the announcement Tuesday at the Bloomberg Future Cities Forum in Dubai. The board has approved the move, he said. Aram is also taking over responsibility for the Africa business, according to a Dubai-based spokesman for the bank.

To get closer to Africa’s fastest-growing economies, rivals such as Standard Chartered Plc and Barclays Plc made the opposite decision to Deutsche Bank’s, relocating their African businesses to Johannesburg from Dubai in the past four years. Deutsche Bank operates in Nigeria and South Africa, where it hired Standard Bank Group Ltd.’s Peter Wharton-Hood as its chief country officer in 2013, based in Johannesburg.

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and JPMorgan Chase & Co. are among other international investment banks that use Johannesburg as a base. The continent’s economic growth rates are higher than in many developed markets, as is its demand for spending on infrastructure and projects.

In Africa, the German lender is involved in investment banking and related services including equity research. It was among advisers to Steinhoff International Holdings Ltd. when the furniture chain agreed in November to buy Pepkor Holdings Pty Ltd. for R62.8 billion, South Africa’s biggest deal in the past 12 months, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Deutsche Bank’s Middle East operations include advising on debt and equity capital markets and wealth management. It has a significant presence in Saudi Arabia.

Dubai’s connections with Africa have increased after local airline Emirates boosted the number of cities it flies to on the continent in recent years.

©2015 Bloomberg News

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