UBS Invited Kuwaiti Sheikh To Apply For Job After Zain Deal - Court Documents
First Published Sunday, 27th May 2012 09:02 am - © 2012 Dow Jones
--Sheikh Meshal is suing UBS in Dubai, alleging unpaid fees
--Bank executives met with Sheikh Meshal in London and Dubai, UBS defense says
--UBS denies it offered Sheikh Meshal a job, defense says
By Asa Fitch
Of ZAWYA DOW JONES
DUBAI (Zawya Dow Jones)--UBS AG (UBS) invited a member of Kuwait's royal family to apply for a non-executive position with the bank soon after it became the lead financial advisor to Kuwait's Mobile Telecommunications Co. (ZAIN.KW) on the $10.7 billion sale of its African assets, the Swiss investment bank said in court filings.
Sheikh Meshal Jarah Al Sabah, who is suing UBS for $21.4 million alleging he was not paid for helping the bank win the February 2010 deal to advise Zain, met senior executives of the Swiss bank in London and Dubai in connection with his job application that spring, the UBS filing said.
UBS said Sheikh Meshal had expressed an interest in working for UBS at an April 2010 meeting in Kuwait on an "entirely separate and unrelated matter" to the Zain deal. Sheikh Meshal said he had "enjoyed interacting" with two executives including Omar Al Salehi, a UBS managing director and vice chairman of investment banking for the Middle East and North Africa, according to the filing.
Al Salehi then invited Sheikh Meshal to apply for a non-executive position, the UBS filing says. But UBS denied that it constituted a job offer, and rejected the Sheikh's claims that he had a verbal contract to help UBS become lead advisor to Zain, which sold its African telecoms assets to India's Bharti Airtel (532454.BY) in March 2010.
UBS was awarded the contract to be Zain's lead adviser on the deal in February 2010, and earned a $22.5 million fee for its work, the defense says.
"At no point was any such role offered or promised," UBS said in the filings with the courts of the Dubai International Financial Centre, where Sheikh Meshal filed his case against UBS and where UBS has offices.
UBS said Sheikh Meshal met with Alex Wilmot-Sitwell, who was then chairman and chief executive of UBS for Europe, the Middle East and North Africa, in May 2010 as part of his application for the non-exective role. Later in Dubai, he met with Carsten Kengeter, then the chairman and co-chief executive of UBS Investment Bank, and Christopher Niehaus, then the head of investment banking in the Mena region.
In response, Sheikh Meshal said that while he met with the bank's management, he "was not interested in any permanent 'position' at any banking institution" and did not undergo any application process. Sheikh Meshal never requested the position or any other position at the bank, the sheikh's response to UBS's filing says.
In his original claim, Sheikh Meshal alleged that Al Salehi of UBS had proposed hiring him as a senior non-executive director as an alternative to paying a fee for his work in the Zain deal. He declined the offer, the claim said.
UBS denied this version of events in its defense and said the bank and Sheikh Meshal "did not enter into a contract, verbal or written, as alleged or at all." UBS submitted its defense last month, but it was made public only last week.
"UBS remains of the view that this claim is without merit and will therefore defend itself against any such allegations," the bank said in an emailed statement. Lawyers for Sheikh Meshal at Lutfi & Co. in Dubai said their client insisted on the correctness of his statement of claim.
Sheikh Meshal had alleged he had two dozen meetings with UBS executives, the first of which took place at Dubai's Atlantis Hotel on July 9, 2009 to discuss his role as an intermediary for UBS on the Zain deal.
UBS agreed that the first meeting took place but said it was meant as a courtesy, and "consisted of a general conversation covering matters in the public domain."
UBS executives did not meet with Sheikh Meshal in Kuwait 21 times, as the original claim alleges, the defense says. Al Salehi met with Sheikh Meshal "on approximately six occasions," according to the filing.
UBS executives did not request Sheikh Meshal's assistance on the Zain deal and did not require help because they were already advising Zain for a number of weeks before the meeting, the defense says. At that time, Zain was in talks with French media giant Vivendi SA (VIV.FR) about buying the assets, but the deal subsequently fell apart.
Copyright (c) 2012 Dow Jones & Co.