Lebanon Businessnews News

BEMO buys Bank Audi
stake in Syria’s Ahli Trust
Obegi: Buy on the sound of cannons

and sell on the sound of trumpets

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Banque BEMO’s Syrian affiliate Banque BEMO Saudi Fransi has acquired the 47 percent stake of Bank Audi in Ahli Trust Bank (ATB) (formerly Bank Audi-Syria) for around $15 million. The remaining 53 percent of ATB is held by Syrian individual and corporate investors.

“Buying a big stake at this price was a bargain and a great investment especially that ATB is a professional bank. The situation is very difficult in Syria but it will not remain forever like that as the saying goes: Buy on the sound of cannons, and sell on the sound of trumpets,” said Riad Obegi Chairman of Banque BEMO. Total assets of ATB stood at $196 million at the end of 2020 and its total equity at $55 million.

Obegi said that since the United States issued the Caesar Act sanctions against the Syrian government, they have reduced their board membership in Banque BEMO Saudi Fransi to one member. “We have not exited Syria but we are strengthening our compliance with sanctions in order to protect the interests of our shareholders and our customers many of whom are involved in humanitarian work there,” he said.

Obegi said they don’t plan to merge Banque BEMO Saudi Fransi and ATB although the two banks are very similar because each of the two banks has loyal clients. He said that instead of the merger the two banks will have common operations and services such as one IT recovery center for both banks. Customers of one bank will also be able to use the branches of the other bank because there are small branch networks in Syria, Obegi said.

Banque BEMO Saudi Fransi is 22 percent owned by Banque BEMO (Lebanon) and 27 percent by Saudi-based Banque Saudi Fransi (BSF). BSF in its turn holds a ten percent stake in Banque BEMO (Lebanon).
Date Posted: Apr 07, 2021
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