BEST EQUITY HOUSE
Best bank in Lebanon was a very close contest. Bank Blom has continued to perform well but the award in 2005 is narrowly won by Bank Audi, an exceptionally dynamic bank that is creating excellent new products and services and has expanded by acquisition.
Last June the bank completed its acquisition of Banque Saradar, one of the top 10 banks in Lebanon. This transaction, the largest of its kind in the country, led to further consolidation of the group's domestic position and reinforced its regional expansion strategy.
It reinforced its leading corporate finance position through structured finance transactions including a ground-breaking aircraft leasing arrangement and the $40 million financing of the Casino-Géant retail distribution project, the client choosing Bank Audi ahead of several foreign competitors.
The bank has also launched several initiatives to develop its strong retail position and has begun its international expansion by opening a retail network in Jordan, finalizing its licence to operate in Syria and applying for licences in Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Iraq.
Bank Blom is a convincing winner of the best debt house award. In the past year it has become the first Lebanese bank to be the lead manager of a sovereign Eurobond – co-leading one for Lebanon, whose three tranches totalled $1.375