Finance

Using their familiar mobile app, they can instantly generate an OTP, making the enhanced security very easy to use.

“As mobile technology improves, it's becoming clear that security and convenience are key for consumers,” said Moath Ismail, Digital Banking Director for CISMEA region at Gemalto.

Alongside the expanding digitalisation in Jordan, there is increased concern over security. Recent research shows that 44 per cent of consumers would leave their bank in the event of a security breach, and 38 per cent would switch to a competitor offering a better service. The key to success for new digital banking services therefore depends on the ability of banks to combine convenience and simplicity for customers with robust protection and complete trust.

As well as strengthening mobile banking security, Gemaltos Mobile Protector eliminates the need to rely on mobile network operators to send OTPs. The consistency and reliability of the customer experience is therefore improved significantly. Furthermore, the new solution will ensure that satisfying rising demand for online and mobile services does not compromise effective financial planning and management.

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APICORPs report also notes that electricity demand and consumption have been growing rapidly in the MENA region, driven by population growth and urbanisation, rising income levels, industrialisation, and low electricity prices; and while economic growth has slowed compared with historical highs, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) still expects an increase of 3.2 per cent in 2018 and 2019, rising to 3.5 per cent in 2022. The regions population is also expected to grow at an average rate of 1.5 per cent per year in that same period.

To meet this rising demand, APICORP estimates that MENA power capacity will need to expand by an average of 6.4 per cent each year between 2018 and 2022, which corresponds to additional capacity of 117GW. APICORP forecasts that $152 billion will be needed to deliver this additional capacity, with a further $108 billion needed for transmission and distribution.

Ghassan Al-Akwaa, Energy Sector Specialist at APICORP, said that fiscal challenges have meant that governments are no longer able to support the provision of cheap power, and many countries are accelerating their price reform plans with the aim of liberalising prices in the short term. While these programmes will aim to reduce the fiscal burden on governments, they will also put downward pressure on power demand. “At the same time, there is a growing role of Independent Power Producers (IPPs) in the regions power sector. Governments have limited options in the medium-term and IPPs will continue to be at the forefront of governments strategies to add generating capacities, which will provide significant relief to government finances and state utilities,” Al-Akwaa added.

Whilst it currently represents 47 per cent, or 151GW, of current MENA power generating capacity, APICORP forecasts that the GCC will need to invest $55 billion to create 43GW of additional generating capacity and another $34 billion in transmission and distribution over the next five years.

Some countries in the GCC, notably Saudi Arabia, have also taken steps to control demand, as a means of keeping required levels of investment in capacity at manageable levels. This was the thinking behind the Saudi Arabian governments most recent round of price increases, as demand had risen significantly on the back of cheap electricity, and with lower oil revenues, subsidising high levels of consumption is no longer sustainable.

On the investment side, the required additional generating capacity in the GCC will be found in traditional and renewable forms of power generation. Saudi Arabia will need to invest around $21 billion, which will increase capacity to 92GW. Saudi Arabia is also kick-starting its renewable-energy initiative, seeking to develop 10GW of solar and wind energy by 2023.

The UAE needs to invest at least $33 billion to meet its expected additional 16GW capacity requirement over the medium term. The country is diversifying its energy sources in the power mix, and APICORP estimates that nearly 10GW of capacity additions are already in execution, including 5.6GW of nuclear. Solar power also features heavily in the UAEs plans and is expected to account for 25 per cent of the generation mix once its latest $13.7 billion (5GW) solar park is fully commissioned.

In the rest of the GCC, Kuwaits generating capacity will need to reach 24GW by 2022, requiring $15 billion of investment; Qatar will need to invest around $9 billion to add 4.2GW to meet rising demand in the medium term: $6 billion in generation and $3 billion in transmission and distribution; Omans rising electricity demand will require an additional 4GW of generating capacity, which APICORP estimates will cost $8 billion; and Bahrain will need to grow capacity by six per cent per annum, with $3 billion of investment to meet capacity additions of 1.4GW, bringing the total to 5.8GW by 2022

Egypt will need to invest an estimated $28 billion in power generation and a further $18 billion in transmission and development, which would increase capacity in MENAs most populous country by 22GW to reach 60GW in 2022. Egypts historic gas supply issues are likely to be alleviated by the development of the recent discoveries, and the bulk of this investment will therefore be in gas fired power stations: indeed, three 4.8GW combined-cycle gas-power plants, which will be among the largest in the world, are expected to come on line this year. All told, APICORP estimates that 25GW of capacity is in execution in Egypt and ready for commissioning, meaning the country should be on track to meet its requirements by 2022.

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Finance

However, the Islamic banks' still high loan concentration to real estate-related sector and higher asset growth remain key moderating factors in Moody's assessment of their standalone profiles.

"Islamic banks operating in the Gulf Cooperation Council countries have benefited from sustained growth in their franchises in recent years. Their solvency has improved, supported by their efforts to reduce the stock of problem loans, and by their sound profitability. While both Islamic and conventional banks in GCC countries reported non-performing loan (NPL) ratios of around five per cent at the end of 2011, Islamic banks reported a larger decline in subsequent years, to around 2.1 per cent at the end of 2017, compared to 2.9 per cent for conventional banks,” said Nitish Bhojnagarwala, Vice President—Senior Analyst and author of the report, Islamic banks – Gulf Cooperation Council, Islamic banks' fundamentals converging with conventional peers.

Moody's expects the Islamic banks' NPL ratios to remain low in the next few quarters, underpinned by three factors: their continued resolution of legacy impairments primarily related to the real estate sector; the lower new NPL formation as a result of their more selective and diversified credit growth; and a significant denominator effect from stronger loan growth.

Moody's also anticipates that Islamic banks in the GCC will continue to report higher net profitability compared with their conventional peers. This reflects Moody's view that their lending margins will remain higher, supported by their favourable funding mix and the backdrop of rising interest rates.

While GCC Islamic banks have maintained higher capital adequacy than their conventional peers, this gap has been narrowing because of the Islamic banks' stronger asset growth, a trend that Moody's expects to continue.

"Nevertheless, their capital buffers will continue to be supported by their stronger profitability and provide a comfortable cushion to absorb potential losses,” said Bhojnagarwala. As long the Islamic banks continue to have significantly higher real estate concentration and grow their assets at a faster pace, they will continue to face higher asset risks than conventional banks, despite their stronger solvency metrics.

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Finance

PARIS — Emmanuel Macron knows by now that it was easier to become French president at 39 than to reform Europe.

From his failed bids to change the way the European Commission chief and Parliamentarians are chosen to his slow-moving eurozone reform plans, the French presidents difficulties on the European stage show the limitations of his style of politics. Ideas and energy alone arent enough to move the tired EU institutions, and his bet on a new Paris-Berlin alliance to transform Europe is hitting the wall of German inertia.

Macrons European plan looked straightforward: Just as he had uprooted all basic rules of French politics to become president, he would take Brussels by storm. Carried by his youth, enthusiasm, political acumen, and with a bold French reform plan to prove he means business, he would bring the fresh air of change to the EU.

Europe would focus more on its citizens daily lives and make sure it would “protect” them. Reforms of the EU political process and monetary union would be implemented by a new generation of leaders eager to kick the habits of the past. And a new partnership between France and Germany would provide “the engine” of European reform.

Macrons friends and advisers deny that the French president is in any way disappointed by his European record so far.

But after an extended honeymoon when Europe was under the new French leaders spell, the harsh reality of politics in Brussels and other capitals has begun to show up the limitations of Macrons liberal revolution.

Remaking the eurozone will prove much harder than planned. Macrons ideas to reform the European Parliament are bogged down in the sands of EU backroom dealings. And his audacious plans to create a pan-European party on the model of his own La République en Marche (LREM) have been put on hold.

Macron this week will spend most of his time trying to revive the European flame he first lit in a big speech last September at Paris Sorbonne university.

On Tuesday, he will have a discussion with MEPs in Strasbourg, then in the afternoon he will hold the first of many town hall meetings he has suggested take place in all EU countries on the topic of Europe.

And on Thursday, Macron travels to Berlin, where he will have four hours of talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on the main European topics of the moment, from the eurozone to the next long-term EU budget.

Macrons friends and advisers deny that the French president is in any way disappointed by his European record so far — or even by the way the EU works.

Not naïve

A French foreign policy academic and occasional adviser to the president pointed out that when he outlined his bold plans for Europe in his Sorbonne speech, “Macron wasnt naïve.”

“He knew what he was getting into,” said the academic, who didnt want to be named. “Youre talking about a guy who knows the EU institutions well, came often to Brussels before he was elected, and is blessed with a keen political acumen. Not the dewy-eyed type.”

Another Macron adviser added: “Just because compromises are difficult to achieve doesnt mean we must stop fighting. That has never been our approach.”

Yet almost a year after his election, Macron knows it will be more difficult to reform Europe than France.

In France, with no political opposition to speak of and the unflinching support of a massive and obedient parliamentary majority, Macron decides and acts. In Brussels, he must haggle and compromise.

Aides point out the achievements he can claim as his own. Ever since he took power, one of them said, his hyperactivity on the European stage has paid off. Frances voice matters again, after 10 years when the countrys haphazard diplomacy, coupled with the euro crisis, reduced it to a marginal role. And a year after his election, the French president is still the wonder-kid of European politics.

Whats more, a Macron aide said, “we got results.”

French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel have worked together closely on several policy issues | Etienne Laurent/EPA

A French diplomat cited the changes enacted to tighten the Posted Workers Directive and the decision by European leaders to review regulations on foreign takeovers to make them tougher. Other achievements may “not be the type to make headlines,” the Macron aide said, mentioning progress on a plan to create a network of 20 European universities by 2024.

It hasnt gone so well on other topics.

On the eurozone, the long power vacuum in Germany, where it took six months to form a government after an inconclusive election, didnt favor in-depth negotiations between two countries with long-standing diverging approaches on the matter. But now that a proper team is in place in Berlin, it looks like normal service will be resumed and German reluctance to engage in significant risk-sharing will water down the mooted reform.

The year-long talks and speeches are likely to end in June with a set of minimalist measures falling way short of the comprehensive reform Macron had in mind for the monetary union, according to a top EU official: incremental progress on the banking union and maybe a deal on a small, common investment budget.

As for Macrons ideas on how to reform the European Parliament, which holds elections in May next year, theyve been smothered by the shock of national interests and political lobbies.

The French president suggested that a limited number of deputies be elected on a transnational basis. It wont happen this time around.

Even though the road to Brussels hasnt been as smooth as he may have expected, there is little chance that Macron will retreat.

He contested the Spitzenkandidaten process that allows the political parties in the Parliament to de facto choose the next European Commission president. It looks like the system, used for the first time in 2014 for the appointment of Jean-Claude Juncker, will survive.

Macron may well insist that the head of the winning list not be “automatically” designated as the next Commission president. But thats the same legalistic view that Merkel used in 2014 to oppose, in vain, the appointment of Juncker.

The French president also planned an alliance of his own LREM movement with other like-minded European parties. The problem is that the parties close to him lose elections, while those who win arent close to him.

LREM would have liked to enter an alliance with Italys Democratic Party (PD), whose former leader Matteo Renzi was Italys prime minister from 2014 to 2016, and in some ways was a precursor of Macron. But the PD was trounced in the Italian parliamentary election last month.

Macrons party doesnt have any possible partner in Germany. Its only potential ally among Europes biggest parties is Spains Ciudadanos, currently polling ahead in the country.

No retreat

Even though the road to Brussels hasnt been as smooth as he may have expected, there is little chance that Macron will retreat and tone down his calls for “in-depth transformation” of the way Europe works.

The first reason is that he doesnt think the populist threat and Euroskepticism have subsided in Europe, and recent elections such as those in Italy and Hungary appear to prove him right.

“Everyone was celebrating last year because of what happened in the Netherlands or in France, but we havent forgotten that in the first round of the French presidential elections, Euro-hostile parties polled almost 50 percent of the vote,” the Macron aide said.

Euroskepticism played a large part in Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbáns recent reelection | Attila Kisbenedek/AFP via Getty Images

The second reason is that Macron thinks that global threats, from Russias assertiveness to a possible Trump-triggered trade war, should force Europe to get its act together and “strengthen the European democratic model currently under attack,” said his academic friend.

Finally, Macron built his presidential campaign on a promise to the French that he would make Europe not only more “protective,” but also stronger and more prosperous.

“Whatever the pitfalls and whatever the setbacks, we have no other choice than keep pushing,” the Elysée adviser said.

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PARIS — As with most things European, Emmanuel Macron has lofty goals for the EUs next multiannual budget.

And as with most of his initiatives so far, he will run into the reality that the blocs member countries and institutions have diverging interests.

The French president has, in his own words, “ambitious” aims for the next European budget covering the years 2021 to 2027, and will push for the financing of what he sees as the EUs new priorities — such as innovation and digitization, security and border protection, and defense.

“France is ready for an expansionary budget,” he said in a press conference in February after the first, preliminary discussion of European leaders on the matter.

The European Commission is expected to unveil its proposal for the budget early next month. Shortly thereafter, Macron has said, France and Germany will try to come up with a common view on the Brussels draft.

“[A]lthough Macron has promised change, the real test will be when negotiations start in earnest” — Senior Commission official

Both countries have some common ideas on the overall direction. The next budget should try to make up for the loss of the U.K.s contribution, which will leave an annual gap of around €10 billion. Both countries also agree in principle that their own contributions should increase, and even appear open to expanding the overall size of the EU budget.

From its current 1 percent of the EUs gross domestic product, the budget might end up amounting to 1.1 percent of the blocs GDP, according to a senior Commission official. But that would be the “landing strip,” he added — the end goal after the Commission and member countries have haggled over both the amount and the content of the budget, known as the multiannual financial framework.

France for now hasnt put a specific number on Macrons general ideas. And the discussion among governments is complicated this year by the departure of Britain — a significant net contributor to the budget despite the yearly rebate it receives from the EU coffers.

A French government adviser said France would push for an end to the rebates system, which makes the whole budget “indecipherable and incoherent.”

French President Emmanuel Macron visiting a cow farm in Aurieres, France | Thierry Zoccolan/AFP via Getty Images

German Chancellor Angela Merkel formally shares Macrons goals, but her ideas about where to find savings to finance new initiatives may conflict with her French friends.

“A big discussion will be on the Common Agricultural Policy and although Macron has promised change, the real test will be when negotiations start in earnest,” the senior Commission official said.

In a speech devoted to Europe in September last year, the French president said France would look at CAP reform ideas “without complex and with a fresh eye,” in line with its critics, who see it as too bureaucratic and cumbersome. It must be “modernized and more flexible,” Macron insisted again in February.

Macrons remarks have been interpreted as a shift from the traditional French stance of protecting the CAP, as Frances politically influential farmers are among its biggest beneficiaries. But the French president so far has never hinted that his reform ideas could end up saving on CAP spending, which amounts to about 40 percent of the EU total budget.

And France is pushing for the next EU budget to have more of its own resources — like a revenue tax on internet giants, if it can be agreed in time. Back in September, Macron also suggested that member countries corporate tax receipts might be pooled, but that would presuppose a hard-to-reach agreement on defining the base on which the tax should be calculated.

“We want taxes and spending to be discussed as a whole and not separately,” the French government adviser said.

Attaching conditions

The most contentious element of Macrons approach, however, is that he wants part of the spending to be made conditional on member countries policies.

According to Macron, so-called cohesion funds — the largest part of the EU budget after the CAP — shouldnt be paid out to governments that engage in what the French leader calls tax or social dumping. Nor should they be paid to governments that violate the EUs core values of democracy and rule of law.

“I will oppose a European budget that would help finance social, fiscal divergence or differences on values” — Emmanuel Macron

That proposal would put Poland and Hungary in the crosshairs, although Macron has refrained from naming them explicitly.

“We have to show … that at least we dont subsidize [those two countries] repugnant policies,” the French government aide said.

Overall, Macron said that conditionality could affect up to 40 percent of total EU spending.

“I will oppose a European budget that would help finance social, fiscal divergence or differences on values,” he said in February. Countries which take money while making a mockery of EU rules and values, he added, “make idiots out of us.”

But the Commission official expressed skepticism on how such conditions could be imposed as part of a budget process that requires the unanimous consent of EU members.

Thats just another harsh reality that Macron will face when the budget battle gets into full swing.

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The SPV is dedicated to making private equity investments in the Permian Basin of New Mexico and Texasin partnership with American Resources Inc.; a Houston, Texas based independent oil and gas company focused on exploitation of underdeveloped assets, with the aim of drilling, extracting and operating 112 Oil Wells within the next four years to bring the total production of the target Legacy Assets from 80 barrels to over 9,000 barrels of oil per day.with the assets are located on Proven Reserves of over 67.5 million barrels of oil equivalent (BOE).

Through Ento Energy SPV LTD, Gulf Energy and Ento Capitalsecured a $50 million acquisitionto establish a 50/50 joint venture company with US-based operator American Resources Inc. The capital raised will be directed towards the purchase of assets and required equipment to extract and operate the designated oil wells. A 50 per cent average annual return on investment (ROI) on the initial capital raised is expected, where cash returns will be issued to investorsas dividend and capital appreciation upon exit.

ENTO Capital is represented by a prominent Board and Management with presence throughout the United Arab Emirates, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait, with the aim to increase its portfolio across the respective markets and to provide uniquely tailored alternative investment vehicles for innovative portfolio diversification through this newly announced investment.

With output totaling more than two million barrels per day, the Permian Basin is the second largest oil field in the world behind Saudi Arabia's Ghawarfield. The Pearman Basin produced a total of 30 billion barrels of oil and 75 trillion cubic feet of natural gas since its first well being drilled in 1921. Recently the region has been increasing its daily capacity by 30 per cent since 2014, reiterating its capability to extract oil effectively through the utilisation of world-class infrastructure.

“The oil andgas industry demonstrated high returns to investors due to the global increase in demand towards fuel. We have witnessed a consistent rise in oil prices which translated into further exploration and drilling, reflecting positively in terms of the oil and gas industry performance,” said Haitham Al Masri, SEO at ENTO Capital.

Al Masri added that there is a strong interest towards the energy sector, with an estimated 54 per cent upsurge in investment within the industry during the upcoming two years. As the global economy sees a continuous shift, along with the growth in demand towards energy products and solutions, it is apparent that the oil and gas sector will remain the largest area of investment. US oil is one of the most circulated products globally due to the nature of the improved market infrastructure, which in turn, makes oil and gas products more valuable and face rapid growth for both investors and individuals.

Al Masri also highlighted that the recent research available encourages investment in the Permian Basin, knowing that studies show over 20 billion barrels of oil recoverable and that over $20 billion dollars of M&A transactions have taken place in the Permian as of the first half of 2017.

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“The Dubai Blockchain Strategy launched by HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Crown Prince of Dubai, aims to position Dubai as a leader in this global technology. Dubai is on course to become the first economy to operate its own cryptocurrency by the year 2020 and the Dubai Land Department is possibly the world's most advanced use of blockchain by any government entity,” Yusup said, speaking at the recent Global Blockchain Forum, held in Dubai, adding that the UAE is a rapidly developing tech economy and blockchain is at its core in both the public and the private sectors.

The Global Blockchain Council was established in Dubai with 46 leading members including government entities, international companies, top local banks and international tech firms including Microsoft and IBM.

Highlighting his expectation on when the UAE will regulate the ICO, Yusup said, “The UAE is a global financial center and ICOs are the most successful global financial instrument over the past two years. In 2017 token sales raised nearly $4 billion and this figure spiked to nearly $6 billion in the first quarter of 2018 alone. As a truly global financial instrument, the rules for regulating ICOs also need to be fully global. While the US has stricter rules than anywhere else, any ICO needs to follow global best practices on issues like Know Your Customer (KYC) and Anti-Money Laundering (AML). Regulators are rightly watchful on these questions.”

According to Yussup, the UAE market is an important one, because there is a strong appetite in the country to expand into the crypto sphere. Yussup estimates that WBF will attract an audience who together manage up to $100 billion in assets.

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The increase in membership brings the total number of DBWC members up to 684, which reflects the important role that the council plays in supporting business women and in enhancing their competitiveness in the countrys labour market.

The DBWC also revealed that it has added 93 new members during the first quarter of the year, reflecting a growth rate of 27.4 per cent when compared to the same quarter last year.

A further 522 participants took part in its workshops and seminars during the first quarter of 2018, which represents a growth rate of 2.8 per cent when compared to the first quarter of 2017.

Dr. Raja Al Gurg, President of the Dubai Business Women Council, stated that the council has adopted an advanced strategy in 2018 that aims to enhance the skills and expertise of its members, and raise awareness on concepts and practices that are advocated by the government such as sustainability and innovation. She added that the result of the first quarter of this year reflects the councils important role as a leading centre for female entrepreneurs in the country.

The Council further revealed that it held 21 workshops and seminars during the first quarter of 2017. However, 16 workshops were organised during the first quarter of this year. This indicates the quality of this years selection of workshops and seminars that were organized according to the needs of the councils members.

In the first quarter of this year, the “Year of Zayed” was marked by the launch of a mentorship programme entitled “DBWC Spirit of Zayed Mentorship Programme 2018,” which offers DBWC members the chance to be mentored by leaders and experts in the business community and from prominent companies. Through their individual partnerships with the nation's most experienced industry practitioners, the council members gained valuable personal and professional insights and advice that aim to help them excel in their endeavours and keep pace with the latest developments in their fields.

The “DBWC Spirit of Zayed Mentorship Programme 2018” witnessed the participation of more than 18 business women and entrepreneurs that represented various sectors, which includes trade, financial services, real estate, information technology, tourism and marketing. The programme benefits participants by enhancing their skills and developing their abilities on both personal and professional fronts.

The Council organised events and workshops on various topics in the first quarter of 2018. Topics included innovation in the workplace and aimed at helping members develop their businesses and aid them in remaining competitive in Dubais labour market.

The DBWC also received three different delegations that represented female leaderships from around the world, which included a delegation made up of a group of female American entrepreneurs from the state of Michigan. The Michigan delegation and the council discussed the establishment of joint partnerships, the exchange of expertise, and the experiences of women around the world. The council also succeeded in highlighting Dubais importance in the current global economic climate and its role as a leading business destination.

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Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein said political volatility is the new normal in the U.S.

In an interview with POLITICO in Brussels on Thursday, Goldmans chief said the situation nowadays is peculiar because the “economy is pretty good and politics are as bitter and as negative as Ive ever seen it.”

“One of the common slogans of the U.S. political scene is, its the economy stupid … it doesnt feel like that now.”

Blankfein also underlined that he doesnt “get hysterical at every pronouncement [made by U.S. President Donald Trump]” because theres a difference between the rhetoric and what actually gets done.

But he added — jokingly — that theres a global Trump frenzy. “Im sure there are villages in the Amazon that dont have electricity, never heard of a television, and everyday they are going home and are talking about whats the latest out of Washington,” he said.

Blankfein suggested that the U.S. trend might be a global one: “The country has elected and wanted a disruptor, but look around the world … there seems to be a moment in time where in spite of the fact that economies are doing well, in the absence of a big problem or a catastrophe thats galvanizing everybody, everyone is acting selfishly and independently.”

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Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein said he is surprised there hasnt been “more of a dramatic effect” due to the Brexit vote, but thinks the full consequences are yet to be seen.

In an interview with POLITICO Thursday in Brussels, Blankfein said the U.K. economy has remained healthy despite the vote, but post Brexit other EU capitals will see their economies growing due to relocating banks.

“For us, it will be the bigger economies of Frankfurt and Paris,” he said, noting that Brexit will require “more distribution of [the bank] than otherwise we would have.”

Goldmans European headquarter is in London, where the bank is currently building a new base worth €1 billion. That will remain the companys European center, Blankfein said, but added that if Goldman had known Brexit would happen, “we might have made a different decision.”

“Therefore, there are decisions made today, and people who are building buildings four years from now wont be. So far whats evident is that we wouldve thought decision-making wouldve been altered by now [due to Brexit].”

“Maybe theres been a lag but certainly, there hasnt been a dramatic fall-off,” he said.

Nonetheless, contingency plans for banks are well on the way, Blankfein added, in order to be ready for March 2019.

“We cant rent real estate at the last minute … we have to get central bank approval and licenses, we may have to deal with clients from different entities and repaper relationships,” he said. Banks are thus addressing those topics now, Blankfein said.

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