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Dubai's Shopping Spree Continues

DIFC has added another arrow to its strategic quiver: SmartStream. The acquisition underscores once again the explosive buildup of financial infrastructure going on in the Middle East.

With the continued weak dollar and high oil prices, it would seem that it is just a matter of time before DIFC or another regional financial institution makes a play for a beleaguered U.S. investment bank. The potential shopping list: Citi, Merrill, and E*Trade. Politically, this could be the ideal time for Dubai to wade back in to U.S. markets through a strategic position or outright acquisition. It would enable the banks to save themselves from further brand erosion and (temporarily) painful restructuring, while regulators and Congress would likely be amenable. Dubai (as well as AbuDhabi and Qatar) are most likely waiting on Washington's reaction to the DIFC-NASDAQ deal. A green light will precipitate further acquisitions.



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