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Deloitte Mideast to open Iraq office, eyes acquisition

Deloitte will open its Iraqi branch in Baghdad in the first quarter of 2011-says official.

November 8, 2010 9:55 by

Global accounting and audit firm Deloitte aims to open its first office in Iraq and is working on an add-on acquisition to grow its Middle Eastern presence, a senior executive said on Sunday.

Deloitte will open its Iraqi branch in Baghdad in the first quarter of 2011, Omar Fahoum, chairman and chief executive of Deloitte Middle East, told Reuters following a roundtable discussion with other media in the United Arab Emirates.

“We have many clients, mainly in the oil and gas industry, that are in Iraq, but we are also looking to serve the local economy,” Fahoum said.

Violence which has crippled Iraq since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion has returned in recent months after inconclusive elections earlier this year created a political vacuum.

Deloitte also wants to increase its activities in Libya, which holds Africa’s largest oil reserves and which has been gradually opening up to foreign investors.

Deloitte employs 2,200 people in the Middle East. The firm was an advisor to state conglomerate Dubai World on its restructuring of nearly $25 billion in debt.

Deloitte has hired around 1,000 people in the past two years alone in the region and aims to continue to grow at that rate, Fahoum said.

It is currently in talks for the acquisition of an advisory firm active in the region, which could be completed in the first quarter of next year, Fahoum said. He gave no more details.

Deloitte also identified Islamic finance, a global industry worth nearly $1 trillion, as one of the growth areas for its Middle Eastern business. “Islamic finance is here to stay, it’s certainly not a flash in the pan,” Fahoum said.

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