The Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA) said on Thursday it has restricted ES Bankers (Dubai) Ltd (ESBD) from taking deposits, requiring the firm to maintain and preserve its assets after the Portuguese group ran into financial difficulties.
The restrictions were required due to the failure of the ES Group, Banque Privee Espirito Santo, one of the group’s many holdings, to honour contractual commitments to its Dubai unit ESBD, the DFSA said in a statement.
“Given the rapid onset of financial difficulties of the wider ES group, the DFSA has taken a series of regulatory actions to protect the interests of depositors and other clients,” the Dubai regulator said in a statement on Thursday.
The DFSA has also suspended the status of Ricardo Espirito Santo Silva Salgado as an authorised individual and doesn’t consider him fit and proper to be a licensed director of the bank.
European banks with operations in the Middle East have already expressed some interest in buying ESBD, the Financial Times (FT) reported on Thursday, quoting people aware of the matter.
Deloitte has been appointed to help oversee a restructuring of ESBD and help prepare the operation for a potential sale, as per the FT report. Deloitte executives in Dubai declined to comment.
Banco Espirito Santo was Portugal’s biggest publicly traded lender by market value before losses on loans to units of the group wiped out much of its capital. In Portugal, regulators are investigating the sale of securities involving Banco Espirito Santo and how the group’s companies helped fund each other.
Espírito Santo Financial Group and other entities of the group have been under creditor protection since July. Portuguese-based Banco Espírito Santo SA has been broken up and the surviving entity bailed out last month.
Apart from taking deposits, the Dubai subsidiary is restricted from transferring any assets to other companies within the Espírito Santo group. ESBD, which opened in DIFC in 2007, is the regional headquarters of the Espirito Santo group and a subsidiary of Luxembourg-domiciled Espirito Santo Financial Group.