Bank Audi and Byblos Bank are planning to launch operations in Iraq for the former and Libya for the latter as both challenge a relatively weaker economic activity in Lebanon, as per newswires.
Also, Blom Bank announced that it plans to enter a new market next year without announcing their targeted place.
Newswires added that domestic banks are significantly affected by the situation in Syria, a market usually seen as their biggest international one. This situation was even more exacerbated by the slowing local economy which has forced banks to seek other fields of operations.
Bank Audi officials indicated that Iraqi operations would start late next year and that the new bank will be a subsidiary of its Turkish business, which launched in October. Turkey is Iraq's biggest trading partner, which would provide Bank Audi with a captive customer base, serving Turkish clients who do business with Iraq. The new venture will begin by focusing on areas such as trade credit and will not be a retail bank.
Byblos Bank officials stated that the options to start operating in Libya could include opening branches or buying a small private sector bank. The maximum investment would be US$ 50 million, which could be funded from existing resources. The bank still has an eye on Egypt, but it would need a capital injection to fund entry into that market. The minimum investment would be about US$ 300 million.
Lebanon Weekly Monitor – Bank Audi Research