News Column

BIT and NECB banks merge with combined assets of $1.1M

July 3, 2014



BEIRUT: Banque de L'Industrie et, du Travail and the Near East Commercial Bank officially announced Thursday a merger between the two lenders which will bring the total assets to $1.1 billion and a private equity of $200 million.

A statement by the two banks said that they signed an understanding but this agreement still needs the final approval of the Central Bank.

The honorary chairman of the new bank Fouad al-Khazen told The Daily Star he hopes the bank will be among the 10 leading banks in Lebanon.

"BIT has 13 branches while NECB has six branches in Lebanon and this brings the total number to 19. We intend to open three more branches soon," Khazen said.

He added that the bank will be called BIT and the capital injection will come from NECB's shareholders.

"With this merger, the license of NECB will be scrapped and this will be in the line of thinking of the Central Bank which is striving to reduce the number of banks to acceptable levels," Khazen said.

Among the key shareholders in the merged bank is former Prime Minister Najib Mikati, Nissan chairman Carlos Ghosn, the Saradar family and the Shammas Economic Institute.

The chairman and CEO of the bank will be Mario Saradar who was the chairman of NECB.

Khazen said that BIT will offer all types of retail, commercial and private banking services in Lebanon.

Last month, Cedrus Invest Bank signed an agreement to acquire the retail operations of Standard Chartered Bank for $25 to $27 million.

The two parties plan to make the official announcement soon.

Officials at Cedrus said that they would keep 85 of Standard Chartered Bank's employees while the rest will receive their end of service indemnity according to the Lebanese labor law.

Last month, Fransabank acquired the assets of Amman based Ahli International Bank for $105 million, making it one of the largest five banks in terms of assets and deposits.

More mergers and acquisitions are expected in the coming two years among the small and medium banks.

The competition and the tight Basel III capital adequacy ratio rules are among the reasons some banks in the country prefer to exit the market.

Some of the foreign owned banks have decided to sell all their operations in Lebanon or reduce the size of branches as in the case of HSBC.


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Source: Daily Star, The (Lebanon)


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