Author Archives: Thomas Schellen

We don’t suntrust you

We don’t suntrust you

When the Bush administration passed the USA. Patriot Act after the multiple terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, it very probably did not intend to punish the innocent alongside the guilty. However, a recent experience I had with my American bank, SunTrust, showed me that that goal has been, at best, imperfectly achieved. The Atlanta-based

Pipe Dream

In the Lebanese economy, trade houses and regional distribution ventures have long resided at the nexus of business success. And while at first it may look unassuming, the import and distribution of plumbing supplies, sanitary wares, heating equipment and tools is a fascinating part of this crucial but underreported economic activity. Georges Khoury & Co

BSE snapshots

Solidere Listing date: September 30, 1996 Number of listed shares Class A 100,000,000 Class B 65,000,000 Opening price Solidere A (Ten to one stock split on 06/01/1997) $113.5 Solidere B (Ten to one stock split on 06/01/1997) $116 Market capitalization (as of 31/12/05, source BSE) Solidere A $1.8 billion Solidere B $1.2 billion Solidere was

The Case For BLC Bank

Background Despite its new look logo and name, BLC Bank is one of Lebanon’s oldest banks, and also historically quite prestigious by domestic standards. Previously named Banque Libanaise pour le Commerce, BLC was founded by the Abou Jaoudeh family in the early 1950s. Prior to the Lebanese civil war, the bank was a major private

The hopes of insurers go up in smoke

Insurance industry representatives in Lebanon recently acknowledged that they expect 2005 to end pretty much as a lost year for business, in line with the “no-growth” environment for GDP and overall economic performance. However, the detailed impacts on sector profits this year cannot be tallied for several more months – with the additional caveat that

Andy Kemp talks oil

    Levant Oil, incorporated in Lebanon, has been trading, importing and storing oil derivatives since it opened a storage terminal in Jiyeh in 2001. This year, the company is launching a chain of “LEO” gas stations across Lebanon. The Levant Oil Group comprises three companies: Levant Oil International, which started up in February 2005,

Azmi Mikati defends Investcom’s IPO

E There has been a lot of reaction to the IPO. Many within the sector claim it was nothing more than a private placement disguised as an IPO, designed to drag in small investors to hype the event. Can you comment on this? There was no need for any hype. We knew very early on

Protecting the integrity of Banks

The UN investigation into the assassination of former premier Rafik Hariri has impacted the financial scene. The work of German prosecutor Detlev Mehlis and his team to uncover suspects behind the murder created a stir when a request for banking secrecy laws to be lifted from the accounts of certain individuals key to the enquiry

A swift turnaround

If the creation of the Audi-Saradar Banking Group was the banking event of 2004, BLC Bank is the bank that has arguably made the most progress in 2005. In economic terms, the role of BLC Bank might be as remarkable or unremarkable as that of any other Lebanese bank of similar size in the sector,

Software success story

Lebanon-based information technology firm Software Design Consulting Group (SDCG) is a rare success story in the country’s landscape of IT developers and implementers with a combined domestic and regional approach. Bucking trends of decline suffered by the Lebanese IT industry, in 2004 the firm realized a 16% growth of business and is rallying even stronger