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JPMorgan's Saudi chief leaves for central bank job

By Dinesh Nair

DUBAI (Reuters) - JPMorgan Chase Inc confirmed on Tuesday that its top banker for Saudi Arabia, Abdulaziz Al Helaissi, is leaving to take a position with Saudi Arabia's central bank.

Two banking sources said that Al Helaissi would become the deputy central bank governor.

The appointment of Al Helaissi, who is also JPMorgan Chase's regional corporate banking head, is the latest move by Saudi Arabia to tap senior executives from leading global financial institutions to run its key state entities. The kingdom, the top OPEC producer, in February named Mohammed bin Abdulmalik Al al-Sheikh, previously a World Bank executive, to head its stock market regulator.

The Saudi central bank was not immediately available for comment. The sources spoke on condition of anonymity as the matter is not public.

Al Helaissi joined JPMorgan Chase in 2010 from Saudi British Bank <1060.SE>, an affiliate of HSBC Holdings . to run the bank's Saudi business and was given additional responsibility as the corporate banking head for Middle East and North Africa in 2012.

JPMorgan Chase has not yet named a replacement for Al Helaissi, one of the sources familiar with the matter said.

Al Helaissi's appointment to the central bank, known as the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency, follows the 2011 appointment of Fahad al-Mubarak, a senior Morgan Stanley banker, as the central bank's governor.

JPMorgan Chase, the largest U.S. bank, has been stepping up operations in the Middle East hiring several key executives and beefing up its corporate and investment banking services in the region.

The bank has been particularly strong in Saudi Arabia, the largest Gulf Arab economy, where it serves top firms like oil giant Saudi Aramco. It hired Rayan Fayez, a senior banker from Goldman Sachs Inc , in Riyadh as its new investment banking head and co-chief executive of Saudi Arabia in 2012.

(Additional reporting by Mirna Sleiman; Editing by Leslie Adler)

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