February 26, 2019 / 4:23 PM / 21 days ago

StanChart gets approval to open unit in Saudi Arabia

FILE PHOTO - A logo of Standard Chartered is displayed at its main branch in Hong Kong, China August 1, 2017. REUTERS/Bobby Yip/File Photo

RIYADH (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia’s cabinet approved a license for Standard Chartered to open a unit in the kingdom, the state news agency reported on Tuesday.

Under its strategy to wean economy off oil, the Saudi government is seeking to boost private sector participation and is reforming its financial sector to allow more foreign banks to access the kingdom to meet the private sector’s financing needs.

“This will help provide modern banking technology, create more jobs and meet the increasing financing needs in the sector, especially in light of the ambitious plans of Vision 2030,” central bank chief Ahmed al-Kholifey told state TV on Tuesday.

“The move reflects that the kingdom is open to improve its financial sector and is ready to accept more foreign banks units,” he added.

Saudi currently has 27 banks operating in the kingdom, 15 of which are foreign banks.

In October, Standard Chartered’s chief financial officer said the bank was pressing on with its application for a banking license in Saudi Arabia..

The 150-year-old group’s announced plans earlier on Tuesday to double returns and dividends in three years by cutting $700 million in costs and boosting income.

Reporting by Marwa Rashad; Editing by David Evans

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