Franklin Templeton is looking to establish an office in Saudi Arabia to deepen its access to the Middle East's largest economy, according to people familiar with the matter.
CEO Jenny Johnson has earmarked the kingdom as a major expansion market for the asset manager, the people said, asking not to be named because the information is private.
The California-based firm, which oversees some $1.5 trillion worth of assets, plans to start the regulatory licensing process that will enable it to build a presence in Riyadh, where it will have investment teams and some sales and support on the ground, the people said. The office will be staffed through a mix of new recruits and internal transfers, including from the company's Dubai office.
A spokeswoman for Franklin Templeton described Saudi Arabia as "an important market" in the region. "While we have not announced any new office openings, we are currently exploring options to grow our regional footprint and will share details in due course," she said.
Saudi Arabia is home to one of the biggest equity markets in the world, largely thanks to state-owned oil giant Aramco, which has a market value of more than $2 trillion.