Wall Street Journal: Credit Suisse, Qatar in Asset-Management Joint Venture

Credit Suisse Group AG and Qatar Holding LLC, a unit of the gas-rich emirate’s sovereign-wealth fund are forming an asset-management joint venture.

The Gulf state is looking to boost its financial sector and lessen dependency on natural resources and the Swiss bank seeks to expand in the fast-growing emerging markets of the Middle East and Turkey.

The asset-management venture will be called Aventicum Capital Management. It will operate in Doha where it will seek regional clients and will have an international unit outside the region, Credit Suisse said in a statement.

“It is an opportunity for us to join with a highly respected partner and is a further example of our long-standing commitment to the region,” said Credit Suisse CEO Brady Dougan.

The new company will be run by Aladdin Hangari, Credit Suisse’s chief executive in Qatar. Martin Keller, its head of asset management in Europe, Middle East and Africa will chair the board.

Doha will be headed by Hashem Montasser, previously in charge of asset management at EFG Hermes Holding (HRHO.CI). The office will open early next year. The international unit will open in 2013 at a location still to be decided, Credit Suisse added.

Credit Suisse has similar asset-management tie-ups in China and India. The Swiss bank in 2005 launched China Renaissance Capital Investment and in 2011 set up HDFC Asset Management of India to capitalize on the wealth generated in emerging markets.

Credit Suisse’s asset-management unit manages about $391 billion in assets and offers mutual funds, alternative investments and other products to institutional clients and private investors.

Credit Suisse and other banks have cut costs and axed thousands of jobs over the past year because of weak growth in their traditional U.S. and European markets. Established banking centers are struggling with weak economies and tougher regulation.

By contrast, the Middle East is flourishing and its banking sector is attracting new business. Bank assets in Qatar rose almost 11% in the year through August to reach about $212 billion, according to data from the Qatar Central Bank.

Qatar Holding, the investment unit of the Qatar Investment Authority, became one of Credit Suisse’s biggest shareholders in 2008 and now holds 6.17%, ahead of the Saudi Arabian Olayan Group with 6.12%, according to Credit Suisse data.

Qatar was one of several sovereign-wealth funds that bought Credit Suisse bonds that automatically convert to shares when it bolstered its capital base earlier this year.