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Lebanon Opportunities

Lebanon Opportunities June 2019

Lebanon Opportunities is a quarterly business magazine that covers: Finance, Real estate, Economy, and Local business. Lebanon Opportunities has tens of thousands of readers in Lebanon and across the globe. It is the prime local business magazine in Lebanon in terms of readership, advertising, and name-awareness. Lebanon Opportunities is written to a target of small business owners, entrepreneurs and middle management, as well as to Lebanese living abroad. It aims at bringing complex business issues in a simple manner understandable by readers who are not experts and whose English language is not the mother tongue.

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3 min
an exercise in budgetary futility

The first round – actually around 20 rounds – of preparation for the 2019 budget has caused, and was accompanied by, a whirlwind of analysis without analytics, street demonstrations against imagined measures, and claims of victory by some political parties when no battle was conducted. Get ready for an even more colorful carnival in Parliament. In conclusion, we will be left with a fantasy version of the public accounts. UNJUSTIFED NUMBERS AT THE SERVICE OF THE STRONG The forecasted revenues and expenditures, even after lengthy discussions in the Cabinet, have no basis in reality. Past government performance indicates that we are likely to come up short on revenues and cross the red line in expenditures. The numbers have been hurriedly prepared, with a goal to reach an arbitrarily set 7.5 percent ratio…

1 min
bits & bytes

SOUND BYTES The lira is in good shape President Michel Aoun When the Cabinet turns into barricades, the State stops working Prime Minister Saad Hariri False rumors are scaring the financial market without any justification Riad Salameh, Governor of the Central Bank We are ready for CEDRE. I hope the Lebanese are too Jean-Yves Le Drian, European and French Minister of Foreign Affairs We have the remnants of a State Mohamed Fneish, Minister of State I bear witness to the suffering of the industrialists and to the injustice inflicted upon Lebanese industries as a result of historical neglect Wael Abou Faour, Minister of Industry Ecological corruption is part of political corruption Gebran Bassil, Minister of Foreign Affairs We are charging the most expensive telecom tariffs in the world. It cannot be changed now, as it maintains the revenues of the Treasury Mohamed Choucair, Minister of Telecom The…

3 min
towards positivity on banks

As talks on austerity proposals which aim to reduce the enormous budget deficit continue to dominate the headlines, we must not overlook the importance of protecting the banking sector and creating an attractive environment for investment. With Lebanon suffering one of the highest levels of public debt in the world – approximately 150 percent of GDP – there is no doubt that the 2019 budget must comprise drastic cost cutting measures to revitalize the economy. TAXES ON INTEREST MAY REPEL DEPOSITS The increase in the taxes on interest earned from banking deposits, approved by ministers in early May, will lead to the opposite of the intended result. It will have an adverse effect and discourage investment of much-needed funds in Lebanese banks. Despite the current rhetoric that suggests Lebanon is teetering on…

9 min
in good company

IPT AND TOTAL LAUNCH LOGISTICS COMPANY Issa Petrol Trade (IPT) and Total Liban have jointly formed Fuel Logistics, a company specialized in the provision of logistics services and the supply of petroleum products. The new company will import around 900,000 tons of fuel per year, which is one third of the market’s demand, according to Total. Previously, IPT and Total Liban intermittently imported fuel on a yearly, contractual basis. Toni Issa, Vice-Chairman of IPT said: “We are going to work together to strengthen our capacities. In the future, the company plans to also serve other companies operating in the field.” Daniel Alvarez, Managing Director of Total Liban said: “We are going to search for the best possible prices in a more organized manner. We are also going to run our facilities,…

2 min
money & banking

HISHAM ITANI AND INVESTORS BUY STAKE IN CRÉDIT NATIONAL Hisham Itani and other investors have acquired 73 percent of Banque de Crédit National (BCN). The bank is in the process of increasing its capital by $30 million to a total of $45.6 million. The capital hike will be injected by the new shareholders and still requires the approval of the Central Bank. BCN is also considering carrying out another capital increase soon. The amount has not yet been decided. At the end of 2017, BCN’s total assets and shareholder equity stood at $208.2 million and $26.2 million respectively, according to Bilanbanques’ data. Itani is the Chairman of Resource Group, which has investments in a number of technology companies such as digital security provider Inkript and Serta, a provider of information and…

2 min
matters of fact

GROWTH IN BEIRUT HOTEL ROOM VALUE The value of Beirut hotel rooms grew 38 percent last year, compared to 2017, according to the Hotel Valuation Index Middle East conducted by HVS, the global hotel consulting firm. This growth is due to an improvement in Revenues per Available Room (RevPAR), and a four-percentage- point increase in the net operating profit margin, according to HVS, which reports on annual percentage changes of typical four and five star hotels. Beirut hotel rooms were valued at $190,000 last year, while the average value per available room at hotels in the Middle East was $207,000 over the same period. Beirut hotel rooms registered a five percent compound annual growth in value between 2015 and 2018. The value of each room dropped 50 percent in 2016 compared…