New York, (Reuters) – Merrill Lynch & Co named Bear Stearns Cos former vice chairman Fares Noujaim as head of its Middle East and North African operations, with broad oversight for sovereign funds in those regions and around the globe, the New York Times said on Monday.
The new position reflects the move by investment banks to develop a new class of senior bankers who can combine a cultural understanding of the area’s mores and practices with an ability to tap its vast wealth, the newspaper said.
Merrill did not immediately return calls seeking comment.
Noujaim, 45, joined Bear Stearns in 1987 and quickly rose to become one of its top-earning investment bankers, with clients including General Motors Corp, Ford Motor Co, Sprint Nextel Corp and Alcatel-Lucent, the newspaper said.
Like other Middle East-born bankers on Wall Street, Noujaim has done little business in the region, but soaring oil prices and the creation of more than $1 trillion of sovereign funds has made Arabic-speaking investment bankers a hot commodity, the newspaper added.
Noujaim will split his time between New York and Dubai, and report to Merrill President Gregory Fleming, the newspaper said.
On Saturday, JPMorgan Chase & Co said it completed its $1.4 billion takeover of Bear Stearns, capping the demise of a Wall Street firm felled by the mortgage crisis.