Author Archives: Tony Hchaime

No monkeying around on the markets

No monkeying around on the markets

Financial markets despise uncertainty, but in Lebanon, these markets were served with large doses of uncertainty time and time again in 2004. Certainly, Lebanon’s geographical location did not help matters: worsening developments in Iraq, ongoing violence in the Palestinian territories, and the stand-off between Syria and the international community, all made markets twitchy. On the

Wishing for a miracle

“I trust Lebanon and its beloved people to God Almighty.” While Rafik Hariri’s resignation flourish may have had more than its share of melodrama, one has to question whether the end of his 12-year “reign” – punctuated as it was with a Hoss-led INTER-REGNUM – will mark the end of an era characterized by donor

Uncertain times ahead

There has been much speculation surrounding the implications of the presidential extension, especially given the reservations articulated by international leaders, the UN, and prominent members of the Arab League, including the GCC and Jordan. Lebanon’s economy is highly fragile and vulnerable to local and regional political developments. Historically, times of uncertainty led to economic downturns,

Banking on the good times

The banking sector in Lebanon continued to witness sustained growth throughout the first half of 2004, continuing the trend adopted in 2003, which followed a short lull. Total banking sector assets grew by more than 11.8% year-on-year, reaching LL94,377 billion as of June 30, 2004. Main growth was driven by growth in deposits, with bank

It’s a hard road to economic health

In a highly publicized speech at the end of July 2004, Maronite Patriarch Cardinal Nasrallah Butros Sfeir called on the government to review the minimum wage in Lebanon (which currently sits at $200 per month, 40% lower in real terms, than the minimum wage of 40 years ago) and pleaded for improved living conditions, which

Banks with buying power

Last month’s issue of EXECUTIVE profiled the 10 mostly likely medium and small Lebanese banks to be acquired or merged. As we now seek to identify the potential acquirers, we shift our spotlight towards the banks financially capable and strategically oriented to undertake M&A activities on the buy-side of the table. Due to the concentration

Let’s get together

Did the Audi-Saradar merger hint at a possible consolidation trend in the Lebanese banking sector, or was it a one off? The sector has seen a number of waves of mergers and acquisitions in recent years, especially in the beginning of the post-war era, as some larger banks capitalized on the difficult situation in the

2004 national budget

There was much debate and not a little bad feeling, but in the end Parliament, after a three-day marathon debate, approved the 2004 state draft budget on April 7, with a vote of 65-31 and one abstention. It was a more realistic budget to the one originally set for 2003, probably due to the government’s

Moneyed marriage

Following the failed merger talks between Banque Audi and Banque Libano-Francaise in 2002, few anticipated the announcement of last month’s $159 million merger acquisition of Banque Audi and Banque Saradar. Moreover, such a merger differs significantly from the type of consolidation sought by the central bank, namely a consolidation of the smaller, less efficient, banks

Revitalizing banking

Despite its proud regional reputation, Lebanon’s banking sector has faced a number of hurdles in the past few years. Strong regional competition, stemming from the spawning of a number of large-scale Arab banks – mainly in the Gulf – have created obstacles for a sector seeking expansion, while a high level of liquidity, a large

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