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Goldman to open Abu Dhabi office in sign of moving past 1MDB

DUBAI - Goldman Sachs Group is opening an office in Abu Dhabi, marking a significant step for the US investment-banking giant that was once snubbed by the emirate for its involvement in the 1MDB scandal.

Goldman Sachs’s new outpost will open in Abu Dhabi Global Market, pending final regulatory approval, according to an internal memo seen by Bloomberg News. The office will add to hubs in Dubai, Doha and Riyadh and allow it to deepen relationships with clients, according to the memo.

The bank’s Abu Dhabi office will initially be focused on asset management, while its investment bankers will remain in its Dubai office, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

A representative for Goldman Sachs confirmed the contents of the memo and declined to comment further.

Goldman Sachs said last year it plans to expand across the Middle East as growing foreign interest and positive economic factors prompt a boom in dealmaking and a flow of funds into the region.

Abu Dhabi, home to sovereign wealth funds overseeing more than US$1 trillion (S$1.3 trillion), has been attracting some big names in recent months. Ray Dalio is setting up a branch of his family office in Abu Dhabi, part of the hedge fund billionaire’s deeper push into the Middle East.

Goldman Sachs had been the go-to bank for many of Abu Dhabi’s top dealmakers, but the fallout from the 1MDB corruption scandal marked its abrupt downfall in the emirate, once one of its most lucrative markets in the region.

The bank missed out on billions of dollars of deals after being sued by two of its investment funds, but has since been able to draw a line under the scandal. Goldman Sachs was a joint bookrunner on the listing of the state-owned oil firm’s drilling business, which was at the time Abu Dhabi’s largest-ever initial public offering. BLOOMBERG