Author Archives: Paul Cochrane

Simple measures to end Lebanon’s energy crisis

Simple measures to end Lebanon’s energy crisis

Reading Time: 3 minutes Lebanon is going through one of its worst energy shortages in years. Even the most electrified part of the country, central Beirut, is experiencing more than the usually standard three-hour outages. Tires have been burnt in protest and people's tempers are rising along with the mercury. While wrangling at Électricité du Liban (EDL) over contract

Doors close across the border

Reading Time: 5 minutes Lebanese banks with operations in Syria are caught between the proverbial rock and a hard place. The uprising that kicked off last spring has forced banks into survival mode as the Syrian economy has weakened and profits have been slashed. Some banks have considered exiting the country, expansion plans have been put on hold, and

Reputations at risk

Reading Time: 3 minutes Syria and Lebanon naturally have shared business interests, but in an era of American and European sanctions against the Syrian regime and individuals associated with it, Lebanese businesses have been forced to try and insulate themselves from risk.  The banks are no different. Byblos Bank, for instance, had the name of Rami Makhlouf — the

The long arm of Uncle Sam

Reading Time: 3 minutes With the United States’ debt having surpassed 100 percent of gross domestic product, at over $15.7 trillion, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has launched an aggressive worldwide campaign to try and curb the deficit by bringing in tax revenues from US citizens abroad. While the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) is not to go

The perils of pipedreams

Reading Time: 3 minutes Serious plumbing problems have arisen in the last year for the region’s multibillion-dollar pipeline plans. For starters, the Euro Arab Mashreq Gas Pipeline, also known as the Arab Gas Pipeline (AGP), has been attacked 14 times over the past year in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, ending exports to Jordan, Syria and Lebanon, as well as to

Landlord versus tenant

Reading Time: 6 minutes Say you’re one of those unlucky landlords whose tenants have an “old rent” contract, meaning they inked their deal before existing laws were passed in 1992. Annual rent can be as low as $100, or if you were slightly luckier, around $250 — the cost of a decent bottle of champagne. So while such low

Turning tragedy into transformation

Reading Time: 9 minutes The notorious ‘old rent’ law that has pitted landlords against tenants for more than half a century may, after two decades of legislative delays, be seeing its last days. If the draft of the new rent law passes in Parliament this month, landlords and real estate developers will be lighting up the sky with fireworks.

Oil in Lebanon: sparring for margins

Reading Time: 3 minutes There are few sectors of the economy that elicit less sympathy than the oil industry. Thus one has to wonder whether there wasn’t more anger than pity generated last month toward oil-importing companies, truckers and gas stations after their one day strike left those who failed to fill up in time sucking on fumes. The

Mapping a tinderbox of possibilities

Reading Time: 4 minutes Attempting to predict whether a war between Iran, Israel and the West will occur is an exercise in speculation akin to asserting that the uprisings in the Arab world will lead to real freedom and democracy in the Middle East — obviously no one has either answer yet; Executive does not pretend to either, not

No shelter from the storm

Reading Time: 3 minutes An attack on Iran that blocks the Strait of Hormuz would clearly have an impact on the Gulf economies. But when it comes to the possibility of a Gulf conflict, companies are extremely reluctant to talk about whether they have contingencies in place.  American technology firm Emerson, which works with the energy industry, replied to