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Lebanon's BLOM eyes retail in its new Egypt market - Daily News Egypt

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Lebanon's BLOM eyes retail in its new Egypt market

CAIRO: Lebanese bank BLOM plans to double the number of branches at its newly acquired Egyptian operation to 16 in 2006, part of a plan to expand the retail business, a senior executive said on Tuesday. BLOM, Lebanon s biggest bank, bought Egypt s Misr Romanian Bank in a deal worth about $97.8 million in …


CAIRO: Lebanese bank BLOM plans to double the number of branches at its newly acquired Egyptian operation to 16 in 2006, part of a plan to expand the retail business, a senior executive said on Tuesday. BLOM, Lebanon s biggest bank, bought Egypt s Misr Romanian Bank in a deal worth about $97.8 million in December. The operation is now called BLOM Bank Egypt. Elias Aractingi, managing director of the Egyptian operation, told reporters that BLOM Bank Egypt would provide a full range of corporate and retail services but was focusing expansion on the middle income market and retail business. “We are going to be in all areas, but these two are the highest growth, he said on the sidelines of a news conference outlining BLOM s strategy in Egypt. Egypt has been attracting European and other players who also see particular potential in expanding retail activity, such as personal finance and credit cards. They say these areas are underdeveloped in the country of more than 72 million. Aractingi said BLOM could have an advantage over European rivals because the bank had experience from Lebanon, a market which only a few years ago went through a similar stage of banking development that Egypt is now experiencing. “If we are talking about retail, the major skill that we can bring is the fact that Lebanon from the developmental stage is not too far from Egypt, versus Europe which is very far, he said. The bank plans to add eight new branches in Egypt but does not intend to increase staff much beyond the 380 the Egyptian operation bank currently employs. Aractingi said the number of employees could rise to 450. Part of the retail expansion will include setting up a network of automated teller machines (ATMs) at the branches and introducing credit cards and personal loan products. On the corporate side, BLOM has been working to clean up bad debts in the loan portfolio of the Egyptian operation and aims to implement a new credit analysis process. BLOM General Manager Saad Al-Azhari said reforms in the banking sector had encouraged his bank and other foreign institutions to expand into the Egyptian market. The central bank has been seeking to encourage mergers in the Egyptian market. Restrictions on new banking licenses mean the easiest way for foreigners to enter the market is by buying an existing bank. Alongside Lebanon and Egypt, BLOM has operations in Syria and Jordan. The Egyptian acquisition also came with branches in Romania. Reuters

Topics: FJP

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