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US bank, 2 others quit DIFC as crisis bites

Dubai, December 27, 2008

Jefferies International, a unit of US investment bank Jefferies, is among three companies set to leave the Dubai International Financial Centre as the global crisis hits the once-booming Gulf Arab region.

A Dubai regulator said in a statement on Wednesday it approved the voluntary withdrawal requests of licences from Jefferies International, Wedge Alternatives and Alternative Investment Strategies Management to operate at the DIFC free trade zone.

Jefferies Group said earlier this month it would slash nearly 15 per cent of its employees worldwide and close offices in Dubai, Singapore and Tokyo as it contends with heavy losses for 2008.

Some 750 companies have signed up in the past four years to operate at the tax-free DIFC, launched by Dubai - already a regional trade and tourism centre - in a bid to become a major financial hub.

About 300 of them are licensed by the regulator Dubai Financial Services Authority.

The economy of the United Arab Emirates, the world's fifth-largest oil exporter, has surged about 50 percent in real terms since 2004 as rallying crude prices allowed state and private investors to pour billions of dollars into projects.

But the tide has turned quickly as slumping oil prices and the global financial meltdown put an end to a property boom in the emirate of Dubai, forcing companies to slash thousands of jobs and cancel dramatic expansion projects.-Reuters




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