A $250 million fund to invest in Cuba. Partnership may include local banks - Lebanon

A $250 million fund
to invest in Cuba
Partnership may include local banks
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The Lebanese-Cuban Businessmen’s Council is preparing to launch a $250 million investment fund, immediately after the removal of the American embargo on Cuba, which is expected on October 27.

The fund will be in partnership with Lebanese banks. Negotiations are underway and Fransabank is expected to join in the deal, due its 20-year long history of dealings with Cuba, according to Rodrigo Malmirca, Cuban Minister of Foreign Trade and Investment. The bank has declined to comment.

Ali Kazma, Chairman of the council, said: “Stability and the openness to foreign investment make the opportunities promising.” Investments will most likely go to the hotel industry and tourism services, the fastest growing sector in Cuba. The number of tourists exceeded three million in 2014 and the first quarter of 2015 saw a growth rate of 17 percent.

To encourage foreign investment and reassure investors, Cuba has issued several laws that included legislative and fiscal stimulus packages. “We plan to attract $2.5 billion in investments, yearly,” said Malmirca. “We have succeeded in maintaining our commercial relations with 75 countries, despite the US embargo,” he said.

The key changes in the new laws included tax cuts on profits, allowing full foreign ownership and tax exemptions on profits for joint ventures. They also recognize intellectual property rights.

“There is much that can be done in Cuba and we already have investments from the Arab countries, especially in the field of energy,” said Deborah Rivas Saavedra, General Director for Foreign Investment in the Cuban Ministry of Trade.
Reported by Walid Merhi
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Date Posted: Oct 20, 2015