Author Archives: Thomas Schellen

The Case For BLC Bank

The Case For BLC Bank

Reading Time: 8 minutes 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

Reading Time: 4 minutes 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

Reading Time: 7 minutes     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

Reading Time: 7 minutes 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

Reading Time: 4 minutes 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

Reading Time: 7 minutes 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

Reading Time: 6 minutes 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

An untraveled road

Reading Time: 5 minutes With Lebanon’s parliamentary elections having recently provoked so much controversy for reasons of sectarian representation, little attention has been devoted to how the new Parliament might address urgent economic issues, security, corruption, as well as long-dormant issues directly or indirectly related to development, such as administrative decentralization and a new election law. A preliminary assessment

Pierre Achkar

Reading Time: 6 minutes Pierre Achkar has his hands full. As manager of the three-and-a-half-year-old, 112-room Monroe Hotel, ravaged by the explosion that killed former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri, he has been overseeing the hotel’s renovation, refurbishment and reopening. Wearing his hat as the head of the Lebanese Hotel Owners’ Association he must direct efforts to minimize overall hotel

Talking Economics

Reading Time: 12 minutes There could not be a greater difference of mandates for two successive governments in any country’s history. The current cabinet of Prime Minister Najib Mikati has been charged with terminating a protracted phase of managing Lebanon under a mixed set of priorities, wrapping up the past and handling one single, existentially important practical task: fair