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Lebanon Opportunities

Lebanon Opportunities March 2016

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

by the editor-in-chief So much happened last month…and so little has been achieved. It was a month full of fiascos. The crisis with Saudi Arabia being the cherry on top. The political structure is disintegrating out of control. The only national adhesive remaining is security – probably because it is in a single hand. The winning hand. WAKING UP TO A NIGHTMARE After decades of somnolence, the Saudi leadership has awakened to an enflamed region. It has changed its ways. Everything that was taken for granted in its behavior is no longer so. Paramount in these changes is foreign affairs. The Saudi leadership has finally discovered that while it was dozing, Lebanon has been occupied. So were Iraq, Syria, and Yemen, among the countries that have endured régime changes or challenges, such as…

1 min
bits & bytes

SOUND BYTES Lebanon is a ripe fruit. Best to pick it now, before it falls Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri Some in the country are more concerned about pollution in Russia than in Lebanon Prime Minister Tamam Salam An under-dose of antibiotics will not be effective Former Prime Minister Fouad Saniora We would like to help Lebanon with its garbage crisis Sergey Lavrov, Russian Foreign Minister Do not kiss unless absolutely necessary! Wael Abou Faour, Minister of Health Deposits from Gulf countries are staying Riad Salameh, Governor of the Central Bank We go to sleep with one set of regulations, but wake up with a whole new set. This has become an obsession Joseph Torbey, Chairman of the Association of Banks No emergency cabinet meeting was held in the wake of the World Bank’s publishing of a 37 percent unemployment rate among the youth Mohamed Choucair, Chairman…

13 min
in good company

PATCHI GETTING READY FOR EQUITY SALE Patchi, a family-owned manufacturer of chocolate and retailer of chocolate gifts, is preparing for a potential sale of part of its equity with Goldman Sachs and its owners with Dubai boutique advisory firm deNovo Corporate Advisors. The value of the company, as estimated by Reuters, is at more than $500 million. The company is looking to sell one third to half of its equity, according to Reuters. Oussama Choucair, Member of the Board at Patchi, said: “We do not aim to sell shares now, especially in light of the unstable regional economic situation.” He said that the idea is not off-thetable, but is premature. “We might get to this in the middle to long run,” he said. A source close to the deal said that…

3 min
money & banking

EFG HERMES IS SELLING ITS SHARES IN CREDIT LIBANAIS After months of rumors and press reports concerning a potential sale of the share of EFG-Hermes in Credit Libanais – at the time either denied or characterized as premature – prospective buyers have finally confirmed that a serious bidding process is underway. Cedrus Invest Bank, BIT Bank, and a consortium of investors, led by the bank’s chairman Joseph Torbey, are seeking to acquire the 63.7 percent stake in the Egypt-based EFG-Hermes Holding in Credit Libanais, said Raed Khoury, Chairman of Cedrus Invest Bank. The bids range between $470 million and $500 million, which value the bank at $738-$785 million. Credit Libanais, under a gag agreement with EFG Hermes, effective until the end of February, was prevented from discussing the deal. “Many of…

9 min
official business

MORE THAN $10 BILLION IN REFUGEE AID Donor states and organizations have pledged billions of dollars in aid to Lebanon, as part of the ‘Supporting Syria and the Region’ conference, held last month in London. Both UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and UK Prime Minister David Cameron said that the conference has raised the largest amount of money ever, in one day, in response to a humanitarian crisis. The World Bank said that it will dedicate $200 million to increase jobs in Lebanon and Jordan. It is also working on a financing facility with the Islamic Development Bank to gather up to $4 billion for the entire MENA region. The United States said it will allocate $300 million for improving education and refugee school inclusion in Lebanon and Jordan. France will…

12 min
matters of fact

BANK DEPOSITS UP FIVE PERCENT Total private sector deposits in commercial banks grew by five percent to $151.6 billion at the end of 2015, compared with a year earlier, according to the Association of Banks (ABL). This was the smallest deposit growth rate recorded in the last seven years. The highest deposit growth, 21 percent, was registered in 2009. Total assets rose over the same period by six percent to $186 billion. “Even if the growth in deposits has slowed compared with earlier years, it is still a healthy growth,” said Fadlo Choueiri, Head of Economic Research at the Credit Libanais Investment Bank. “The banking sector is still highly liquid and there is no risk of a liquidity squeeze,” he said. The increase in deposits could still enable banks to meet…