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Lebanon Opportunities

Lebanon Opportunities September 2017

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 Highlighting successes is a national duty, especially when general morale is at an all-time low. No conversation starts, or ends, without the usual litany of self-pity over the desolate state of affairs, with corruption, traffic, and the poor economy as the main staples. Yet, every month, we witness wins that fail to boost confidence, or weight in on the overall picture. Take, for example, what happened last month. AN ECONOMIC VICTORY ON THE EASTERN FRONT Careless shepherd make excellent dinner for wolf – Earl Derr Biggers By some miracle, the wolves are gone, transported to distant wilds. The sudden political and military resolve of the weak State, and the mighty Hizb, have driven Daesh combatants to their grave, or to new battlegrounds. Good riddance. Nothing but good will result from quieting…

1 min
bits & bytes

SOUND BYTES The wage increase and tax laws include some contradictory elements President Michel Aoun Electricite du Liban sells power below cost Prime Minister Saad Hariri A large portion of the funds at large and small banks is being invested in T-bills rather than in the productive sectors Ali Hassan Khalil, Minister of Finance We have resorted to electricityproducing vessels because we could not secure land to build plants on Cesar Abi Khalil, Minister of Energy and Water The new salary scale will lead to the relaxation of the markets Riad Salameh, Governor of the Central Bank Stop electricity and telecom projects Walid Jumblatt, MP A state of emergency needs to be declared by the Ministry of Agriculture to save this season’s apple crop Samir Geagea, Chairman of the Lebanese Forces We can finance the wages bill without increasing taxes Ibrahim Kanaan, Chairman of the Parliamentary…

4 min
in good company

VOLVO DEALERSHIP SOLD Emile Eid recently increased his stake in the Volvo dealership from 20 percent to 96 percent by acquiring the shares of former partners Marwan Naffi and Fadi Daouk. The remaining minority shares have been split between Daouk and Michel Mimas. Eid, who also owns shares in Volvo Jordan, first invested in the local automotive industry in December 2015 after acquiring a 20 percent stake in the Volvo dealership from Naji Gabriel Abou Adal. Naffi said the agency’s sales almost doubled between 2013 and 2016. According to the Association of Car Importers, Volvo sold 243 passenger vehicles and trucks last year compared to 213 (2015), 100 (2014), 126 (2013), and 68 (2012). Sources close to the deal estimated the agency’s turnover to be between $17 million and $20 million…

4 min
money & banking

SPREAD NARROWS BETWEEN LIRA AND DOLLAR LENDING RATES The spread between the Beirut Reference Rate (BRR) on lending in lira and the BRR on lending in U.S. dollars has narrowed by 27 percent since January 2016. The spread is currently at 1.87 percent, as per the rates set by the Association of Banks (ABL) for September 2017. The margin between the two rates has been slowly decreasing over the period due to the moderate rise in the BRR on lending in dollars. The BRR for lending in liras was fairly stable during the period. The increase in the dollar BRR followed rising global interest rates on the dollar. “The rising interest rates on the dollar will increase demand for loans in liras,” said Mazen Soueid, Chief Economist at BankMed. This is beneficial…

5 min
official business

TENDER FOR POWER BARGES TERMINATED The Cabinet has terminated the tender for two additional power barges with a capacity of 425 megawatts (MW). The Department of Tenders will launch the tender again, after receiving amended terms of reference from the Ministry of Energy and Water. Jean Ellieh, Director-General at the Department said, “Only one bidder, Karadeniz, applied for the tender. By law, there should be at least two competing companies.” Karadeniz, a Turkish firm, is currently providing electricity through two power ships, Fatmagul and Orhan Bey. “The terms of reference should be amended in a way so more competitors can participate in the tender,” Ellieh said. According to Ellieh, when the first tender was launched, around 50 companies purchased the terms of reference, and eight bidders participated in the tender. The…

3 min
matters of fact

MANUFACTURED FOOD EXPORTS UP Exports of prepared foodstuff and beverages increased 15 percent in volume in the first half of this year, in comparison to the same period in 2016. Exports increased from 150,000 tons to 172,000 tons, according to figures published by Customs. Mounir Bissat, Secretary-General of the Syndicate of Lebanese Food Industrialists, said, “As competition is increasing in the exporting markets, some companies have chosen to maintain their export share by reducing prices or selling at cost in order to retain their client base.” Bissat said prices of some raw materials have dropped globally, reducing the cost of production. Total ‘real’ exports decreased 29 percent in the first half of this year, registering $1 billion. Industrial exports fell to reach $918 million. ‘Real’ export figures exclude pearls and precious…