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Top Bankers Quietly Prep for Saudi While Their Bosses Skip Forum

In public, finance industry leaders have bailed on a key Saudi Arabian investment conference next week. Behind the scenes, dealmakers bringing in the hard cash are fretting -- and still going. Senior investment bankers from HSBC Holdings PlcSociete Generale SA and Credit Suisse Group AG are planning to attend the Future Investment Initiative -- dubbed “Davos in the Desert” -- even though their chief executives have told the world they’ve canceled appearances there. Wall Street firms such as Morgan Stanley and Citigroup Inc., which have yet to publicly signal their intentions, are also expecting to send executives, people familiar with the companies said, asking not to be identified because the details are private. However, the situation remains fluid, they said... “The banks clearly think the potential deals on offer outweigh any reputational risk that is associated with attending the FII in light of the Khashoggi affair,” said Jason Tuvey, senior emerging-markets economist at Capital Economics. "Many will be keen to ensure that they maintain close ties with the government”...

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