Saudi Arabia is many things: a repressive monarchy, a global sponsor of terror, a rare practitioner of the lost art of beheading, a black hole of women's rights, etc. But that would be focusing on the negative. James Gorman would like to bring out the positive aspects of the kingdom – namely, that the House of Saud is also wallowing in money:
Morgan Stanley CEO James Gorman said Saudi Arabia could be a "major opportunity" for the firm as the country unveiled plans for oil giant Saudi Aramco's $100 billion initial public offering and introduced a series of reforms to attract foreign capital in 2015.
As you'll recall, Morgan Stanley is one of three western banks already advising Saudi Arabia on its planned partial IPO of the its mathematically challenged state oil company Saudi Aramco. The bank already has a significant office in Riyadh, established back in the heady days of 2007 to get ahead of its rivals. And despite escalating tensions between the Saudis and U.S. partner Qatar alongside a brutal war in Yemen, Gorman knows that things are looking up in Saudi Arabia.
Of course, Morgan Stanley and every other global bank so inclined is freely permitted to do business with the U.S.'s greatest gulf ally. It's not like Gorman is personally approving Saudi Arabia's medieval-era justice system by arranging currency swaps and leveraged buyouts for the House of Saud. But generally speaking, bank bosses are a little more guarded about their dealings in such conflicted regions. Then again, generally speaking, there isn't $2 trillion twinkling in their eyes, either.