The sharks are starting to circle key RBS MENA staff

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RBS is radically downsizing its investment bank globally, so it's inevitable that its Middle East operation will be affected. While the actual job losses will be minimal, headhunters are looking to prise out key staff unsettled by the shake-up.

Last Thursday, RBS revealed that it was making 3,500 redundancies globally as it shrinks its investment bank and pulls out of certain businesses entirely. It will close its M&A, cash equities, equity capital markets and corporate broking businesses, which are currently making a loss.

"Less than five people" will be leaving RBS as it looks to sell its regional M&A business, according to its chief executive for the Middle East and Africa Simon Penney, but key equity capital markets staff – including Tom Emmet, managing director and head of corporate finance and equity capital markets for the region - will be leaving, according to Reuters.

"Any general coverage bankers at RBS will struggle to find new positions currently, but managing directors coming out of the bank will find no shortage of offers, and we're hoping that other senior employees will be more welcoming to our advances," says one financial services headhunter in Dubai.

In particular, Jacco Keijzer, head of debt capital markets for the Middle East & Africa, and John Baini, head of the restructuring group for the Middle East, are considered desirable targets, suggest headhunters.

The timing of the move will be frustrating for employees of RBS's Middle East M&A division – in December, the bank was highlighting the fact that it was working on $2bn worth of deals.

"We had some pretty good mandates live and we'll see all deals closing. We will honour all client obligations but we won't be originating any new business," said Penney.

One headhunter says that the "individual talent" that helped spur these deals will be actively targeted in the coming months.

RBS employs around 220 people in the MENA region, so proportionately the cuts will be small. However, the majority of these employees focus on private banking and corporate banking. The latest redundancies show that investment banking continues to bear the brunt of any job cuts